Friday was one of the most bizarre days on the ATP tour as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both received walkovers into the Miami final. This was a real blow for fans who had bought tickets for Friday as they saw no singles action! Kei Nishikori, who was scheduled to play Djokovic in the first semi-final, was forced to pull out with a left groin injury and then Tomas Berdych, who was to play Nadal, was undone by a dodgy stomach. Here’s the preview for the first Djokovic-Nadal match of 2014.
Miami has been a strange tournament for Novak Djokovic because he has played just three matches to reach the final of a Masters 1000 event. He received a bye into the second round, a walkover in the fourth round when Florian Mayer pulled out and once more from Nishikori in the semi-finals. In the matches he has played, Djokovic has looked in impressive form. In the quarter-finals, he defeated Andy Murray in straight sets, 7-5 6-3. The scoreline perhaps made it look more straightforward than it actually was, but Djokovic was incredibly solid throughout the 1 hour and 30 minute contest.
On the other side of the draw, Nadal has had things tougher. In the quarter-finals, he dropped a set to Milos Raonic, a first in their five meetings; however he came through strongly to edge out the Canadian player in three sets, 4-6 6-2 6-4. Before that match, Nadal had sauntered through the draws with very comfortable victories over Lleyton Hewitt, Denis Istomin and Fabio Fognini. After a surprising early loss in Indian Wells, Nadal has looked much sharper this week.
To be honest, I find previewing these kinds of matches quite tedious because I have done so many of them over the past couple of years! This will be their 40th match, but their first one in 2014. In 2013, they each won three matches with Djokovic winning the last of those at the World Tour Finals, 6-3 6-4. Djokovic received a big confidence boost last week winning Indian Wells despite playing a few shaky matches where he was unable to serve out matches at the first time of asking. It’s difficult to really say how this one will go with no previous matches this year and their head-to-head has always been very even. I’ll go with Nadal, but it really could go either way.
Prediction: Nadal d. Djokovic in 3 sets