Roger Federer enters Miami Open as prohibitive favourite, eyes 91st title

By @saihoops on
Roger Federer, Miami Open
Mar 19, 2017; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Roger Federer (SUI) celebrates after he defeated Stan Wawrinka (not pictured) 7-6, 6-4 in the men's final in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. USA TODAY Sports/Jayne Kamin-Oncea

Roger Federer is seeded fourth for the upcoming Miami Open, which gets underway Wednesday in Key Biscayne. Florida. However, the Swiss master is primed to win his career 26th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and 91st overall tournament following his impressive victory at Indian Wells. 

With top seeds Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray pulling out of the tournament with injuries, Federer is the prohibitive favourite in his first Miami Open appearance since 2014. At 35 years and 7 months, Federer surpassed Andre Agassi (34 years and 3 months) as the oldest player to win an ATP Masters 1000 title Sunday when he breezed past Stan Wawrinka in the BNP Paribas Open finals. 

Adam Barrett, the Miami Open tournament director, realises that Federer's recent hot streak bodes well for crowd attendance over the next fortnight. "He’s not playing unbelievable tennis for a 35-year-old; he’s playing unbelievable tennis for a 25-year-old. He’s had an unbelievable start to the year, and we’re excited that he’s on his way here and he’s on a streak, so we’d like him to continue it here in Miami," Barrett told the Sun Sentinel.

Roger Federer looking forward to Miami Open

Last year, Federer pulled out of the Miami Open due to an untimely stomach flu. This year, he plans to spend a lot of time with his family and kids in the beautiful beaches of Miami. “I was excited for Miami last year, was going to test my knee, and then I got there and I got a stomach bug. All four kids were sick back home; I probably carried it over to Miami.

"I was sitting there in the morning of my first match, went to warm-ups and I felt so bad. I said, 'I didn’t come all this way to play sick and maybe hurt.'  The idea was to test the knee, not fight through sickness. It was warm and I very quickly took decision the not to play, It hurt, but it makes me even more excited to play this year," Federer told the Miami Herald earlier this week. 

A potential showdown with Juan Martin del Potro

It won't be an easy path to the finals for Federer. In the third round, he would likely face Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, who owns a 5-3 record against Top 5 players this calendar year and seems to be hitting his straps in recent weeks. Though Federer owns a 15-5 head-to-head record against del Potro, the two haven't locked horns since the 2013 ATP Finals, which lends an element of surprise to the potential showdown. 

If Federer were to survive del Potro, he could be matched up against 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the fourth round, followed by a showdown with either tenth seed Tomas Berdych or sixth seed Dominic Thiem the quarter-finals. Following that, Federer could face fellow Swiss star and No. 1 seed Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals. If everything goes according to plan, Federer could face old foe Rafael Nadal in the final. Nadal, seeking his first Miami Open title, enters the tournament as the fifth seed. 

Nadal, a four-time finalist in Key Biscayne, could square off with ninth seed Grigor Dimitrov in the fourth round, before a quarter-finals match-up against Indian Wells semi-finalist Jack Sock or third seed Milos Raonic. Nadal could potentially have to contend with Japan's Kei Nishikori in the semi-finals. 

Roger Federer, with 90 career ATP titles, is now third in the all-time list behind Jimmy Connors (109) and Ivan Lendl (94) for most championships in the Open era. Though Federer isn't admittedly chasing Connors' record, the Swiss master acknowledged that "it's a nice goal to have" when reminded of the achievement a day before Sunday's Indian Wells final. Would Miami Open be No. 91 for Federer?