Monday, March 25, 2013

Round of 16 preview and predictions in Miami

Djokvic/Haas: 99.4% of fans picked Novak Djokovic to win this match before the tournament and that is not surprising. Djokovic has owned the city of Miami and is going for his third straight title in the Masters Series 1000 event. Tommy Haas has beat Djokovic twice before and made a lot of Nole fans nervous in Toronto last year as he won the second set 6-3 against the Serb. However, both of Haas's wins were on grass, which is his favorite surface and Djokovic beat Haas fairly handily in the Shanghai quarterfinals later last year. I'm picking Djokovic to win this 6-2, 6-4.

Simon/Tipsarevic: Gilles Simon leads Janko Tipsarevic in the series history 6-2, but a comeback win for Tipsarevic in the previous round will fuel him as he takes on the lower-ranked Frenchman. Also Tipsarevic won the last match between these two that wasn't decided  by retirement. However, Simon's patience could be too much for Tipsarevic, who will have to grind to win every point. Tipsarevic clearly isn't 100% after dealing with issues in his heel, so I am picking Simon to reach the quarterfinals by a score of 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

Ferrer/Nishikori: David Ferrer has bounced back nicely after being upset in the first round at Indian Wells with a win over Fabio Fognini on Sunday. The last time this pair met, Ferrer completely demolished Kei Nishikori, but Nishikori was hampered with an injury. Nishikori, who appears to be healthy following wins over Victor Hanescu and Xavier Malisse, is looking to prove that the beatdown in Melbourne was just a fluke. Nishikori has two wins over Ferrer in the US Open and London Olympics, but overcoming the Spaniard in Miami is a big ask for the No. 15 player in the world. I'm picking Ferrer to grind out a 7-6(5), 6-3 win.

Ramos/Melzer: These are the two big surprises in the round of 16 in Miami and one of them is advancing to the quarterfinals. This will be the first time either of the lefties have played each other. Jurgen Melzer's physicality and big ground strokes will be tough for Albert Ramos to handle. Ramos prefers the clay, but is finding plenty of success on the American hard courts. I think Melzer's power will be too much for Ramos as the Austrian will take a 6-3, 7-5 win into the quarterfinals.

Gasquet/Almagro: This match features the two best one-handed backhands in tennis right now. The backhand rallies will be mouth-watering. Nicolas Almagro owns the series history 3-1 and won the only match on a hard court, but Richard Gasquet won the most recent match up in Wimbledon in straight sets. I expect this to be the best match of the fourth round of the tournament. I think Gasquet, at age 26, is finally beginning to live up to some of his potential right now. Although he may not ever be the world No. 1, he is quickly becoming one of the toughest players to beat on tour. I think he will hold on for a close win by a score of 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(3).

Berdych/Querrey: Tomas Berdych has been anything but impressive this week, needing consecutive comebacks to defeat two opponents ranked outside of the top 40. However, his resilience displayed in the last week explains why he has been a regular in the top 10 for the last two years. Sam Querrey has 11 career top 10 wins, proving he is capable of competing with the best. This match features two of the most powerful hitters on tour, making for some bludgeoning rallies. This is an oppurtunity for Berdych to get some points for his ranking with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer gone. I expect Berdych to be especially focused on getting a good start after doing the complete opposite in his previous two matches. I'm picking Berdych to win this mathc 6-3, 7-5.

Tsonga/Cilic: 83.5% of fans picked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach the quarterfinals before the tournament and he has not disappointed them with wins over Viktor Troicki and Jarkko Nieminen. Both players enter this match with a record of 14-4, setting the stage for another thrilling match between two players who can absolutely crush the ball with their forehands and serves. Cilic is the one with more precision with his ground strokes, but Tsonga is a much better mover and possesses deft touch which is what makes him a mainstay in the top 10. Tsonga can be a tough player to predict, but I like him to win this match in three sets, 7-6(6), 2-6, 6-3.

Seppi/Murray: 95% of fans are picked Andy Murray to win this match before the tournament. Andreas Seppi defeated Murray in 2006 when the Scot was just 19 years old. Since then, Murray has defeated the world No. 19 four times. Seppi doesn't have the kind of weapons that can make Murray nervous on a hard court. This will be a glorified practice session for Andy Murray who will defeat the Italian 6-1, 6-4.

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