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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Imperious Del Potro could make spring double history

Federer no value now there's someone who can beat him

Juan Martin del Potro can become the first Argentinian to win the men's Miami Open
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ATP & WTA Miami Open
Sky Arena, 3pm & BT Sport 3, 7pm Wednesday

Juan Martin del Potro's victory over Roger Federer in Indian Wells has really thrown a spanner in the works.

Having advised Federer for part one of the USA spring hard-court double, the original plan was to to then side with Del Potro in Miami.

But having seen Federer’s current chief threat Delpo take the honours in the desert and become the first Argentinian to win at the Tennis Garden makes outright picks for Crandon Park tougher than might otherwise have been the case.

Does Del Potro, who was also triumphant in Acapulco imme­diately prior to Indian Wells, have the stamina and energy to win not two but three big tournaments on the spin? Will it be easier for Federer to bounce back in Florida having been pipped in California? Or will both market leaders suffer from their BNP Paribas Open exertions?

It's obviously likelier that Federer will return to the winner's circle, but now there's someone out there who is genuinely capable of beating the Swiss veteran it could work the other way.

Del Potro deserved to win the Indian Wells final, but the only surprise was that it wasn't by a greater margin.

Perhaps the Tower of Tandil might increase his supremacy over Federer should the pair set up a final repeat in Miami. If anything, Delpo could be more vulnerable in the earlier rounds at Key Biscayne in his last chance to win at Crandon Park before the tournament moves to its new home at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Del Potro is in the same eighth of the draw as his one-time nemesis Novak Djokovic. But the Serb is apparently still some way below his brilliant best, so the Argentinian will surely never get a better chance to post a rare triumph over the former world number one should they meet.

With no Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Dominic Thiem, Lucas Pouille, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Gael Monfils competing in Miami, punters should take seriously David Goffin's chance.

The mercurial Belgian is deserving of a title in this grade and he looks to be stripping fit in the lead-up to the tournament.

Milos Raonic stepped up his form nicely in Indian Wells and the Canadian could again go well, while Taylor Fritz is also playing well enough to enter calculations.

In the top half of the draw, Federer could have most trouble from Nick Kyrgios, but the Aussie's wellbeing fluctuates from one event to the next and has to be taken on trust. The Canberra ace is good enough to figure if his head is screwed on, though.

Alexander Zverev has been struggling on court since splitting with coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, while Borna Coric, a semi-finalist in Indian Wells, and Britain's Kyle Edmund can continue to go from strength to strength.

Recommendation
J M del Potro
2pts 5-1 Betfred


Naomi Osaka was superb in taking the Indian Wells title on Sunday, but in differ­ent conditions on a different court it's questionable whether she should be favourite to upend the best female player ever.

Serena Williams has cared a lot more for Miami than Indian Wells down the years and we could see a much sharper performance from her than she produced in defeat to her sister Venus Williams in California.

The early support has been for Osaka, but if Serena gets motoring in Florida she could quickly become a serious title contender. And if that’s the case, then the chance to back her at odds-against to win a match should not be missed.

Recommendation
S Williams to beat N Osaka
2pts 11-10 Coral, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power


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Del Potro deserved to win the Indian Wells final, but the only surprise was that it wasn't by a greater margin
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