I apologize for not writing anything about Indian Wells, where Federer had a great week and just fell short in the final against Djokovic. Before I start with Miami, I want to talk a little bit about that tournament, for Fed, even if it is late.
Coming off the Dubai win, it was important for Roger to have a good tournament in California, especially because he could gain points after his quarterfinal exit a year ago. He probably got a little fortunate that Nadal lost in the 3rd round to Dolgopolov, as they would have faced off in the semifinals, but as they say, all you can control in a tennis tournament is your own matches.
By making the semifinals against Dolgopolov, it was the 7th consecutive tournament where he made at least the semis - dating back to Basel last fall. That kind of consistency is what was missing for nearly all of 2013 for a variety of reasons. It's nice to see Roger get a string of positive results, because in my view building up that confidence and momentum now is the only way he'll be able to put himself in a position to make another run at Wimbledon.
Also coming with the final appearance at Indian Wells was a jump in the rankings from #8 to #5, is biggest single week jump since 2002. He will go up to #4 after Miami if Ferrer doesn't reach the final and Berdych doesn't win, which would be a great feat and something to be proud of after a tough season in 2013.
Alright, onto Miami.
First up, the Fed will face Dr. Ivo, the man that dissects mere mortals with his serves and laughs them off keel with his humour. The big guy is always dangerous with his serves but whenever Roger faces him, he tends to bring out the best in his returning ability. I expect nothing less in this one.
Should he get by that, Fernando Verdasco could await in the third round. Verdasco had a solid week in Indian Wells, but should be no match for an in-form Roger, especially since the Spaniard isn't the player he once was in 2009-2010. Richard Gasquet could be a tough 4th round opponent, but the Frenchman hasn't given Roger any trouble on hardcourt since 2006 (the only time he troubled Fed on the surface). Kevin Anderson could also be a round of 16 opponent, whom Fed easily dispatched in the quarters last week. Ferrer is the highest seed in the quarters, but he is coming off an injury and he may have the dangerous Dimitrov in his path. And Roger get by all that, he'll likely face Djokovic for the 3rd time this year in the semis.
All things considered, it would be a disappointment not to make the semis given his form and the fact he got Ferrer in his quarter and not Nadal or Djokovic. Miami has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for Fed, not having made the final since his 2nd title win there in 2006. But when he's playing well, as he is now, he can definitely make a great run. I don't think he'd have any chance against Nadal on the slow courts at Key Biscayne, but against Djokovic he always has a chance no matter what the conditions are.
Here's to an entertaining tournament and to Roger entering the top 4 once again (hopefully!).