5 Things We Learned At The 2017 Miami Open
We look into five storylines that emerged during the season’s second Masters 1000 event
Roger In Hunt To Reclaim No. 1, But Health Comes FirstRoger Federer continues his stunning start to 2017 by winning the Miami Open presented by Itau over Rafael Nadal. The win marks his first Miami title and third “Sunshine Double” (2005-2006), in addition to his third winner’s trophy of the year.
The Swiss star remains on top in the Emirates ATP Race to London and holds a convincing lead over his rivals. Having accumulated 4,045 Emirates ATP Rankings Points so far in 2017, he leads No. 2 Rafael Nadal by well over 1,500 points and has more than doubled the points of everyone else on the ATP World Tour. With Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray struggling with injuries and form over the past month, they’ll both have significant ground to make up during the clay-court season.
But while Federer remains in good stead to reclaim the top spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings, he won’t be playing every week to accomplish this goal. At 35 years old, Federer has said he intends to play a sensible schedule in order to remain healthy and maximise his opportunities at the world’s biggest events. If he is to reclaim the top spot, it likely won't happen until the second half of 2017.
Kyrgios Could Be Making Bid For LondonGone are the days when Nick Kyrgios would follow up a big win with a surprising loss. The Aussie has remained consistently consistent in 2017, reaching the semi-finals in three of his past four events. His final four showing in Miami was highlighted by one of the finest matches this year, when he came within two points of beating Federer before narrowly losing 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5).
The run of form since Australia leaves Kyrgios just outside the Top 8 in the Emirates ATP Race to London. Showing improved mental fortitude, he is bringing his best tennis to every match he plays, regardless of crowd size or opponent. If Kyrgios can continue to keep up his current level of focus, he will be a strong contender to qualify for the ATP Finals.
Zverev Clear Leader Of Next Gen ATP PackAlexander Zverev holds a dominant lead over his young rivals in the inaugural Emirates ATP Race to Milan. The 19-year-old German ousted top seed Stan Wawrinka in the fourth-round in Miami before losing to Kyrgios in a match filled with huge hitting and displays of emotion.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign for Zverev fans is that he excels on all surfaces. He reached his first ATP World Tour final on clay last May in Nice (l. Thiem), defeated Federer the following month to replicate that effort on grass in Halle (l. Mayer) and then lifted his first winner’s trophy in September on the indoor courts of St. Petersburg (d. Wawrinka). Currently inside the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, Zverev has proven he has all the tools to continue climbing.
Fognini Thriving Against Top PlayersAfter posting a tame 5-5 record in the first two months of 2017, Fabio Fognini came alive in the U.S. After scoring a Top 10 win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Indian Wells, the 29 year old defeated second seed Kei Nishikori to reach the semi-finals in Miami before losing to Nadal. This fortnight marked Fognini’s first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final on hard courts.
Fognini has long proven he is capable of beating the world’s best, but doing so in back-to-back events shows he could be enjoying a late surge in his career. Expect the Italian to score a few more big scalps during the upcoming clay-court season.
Kontinen Becomes New Doubles No. 1Henri Kontinen will make history for Finland by securing the top spot in the Emirates ATP Doubles Rankings on Monday. The 26 year old has enjoyed outstanding success with John Peers, finishing 2016 by winning the Paris Masters and ATP Finals, and opening this year by prevailing at the Australian Open for their first Grand Slam title.
Kudos also goes to Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, who defeated Nicholas Monroe and Jack Sock to take the doubles title in Miami. After starting the year with a 4-5 record, they regrouped strongly by finishing runner-up in Indian Wells (l. Klaasen/Ram) before their latest success.