By Mike McIntyre
The second round of play came to a conclusion at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami on Saturday and while the women's draw seems to be unfolding according to plan, the upsets continued on the men's side.
A day after second seeded Novak Djokovic went down in defeat, the third seed, Andy Murray followed suit. Murray was dropped in straight sets by American veteran Mardy Fish, 6-4, 6-4. Since reaching the Aussie Open finals in January, Murray has looked listless on court failing to advance past the quarter-finals of any event he has played. While I'm sure that this is just a blip on the screen for Murray, it has to be concerning for his camp as the hard court swing is coming to an end - a time where Murray usually shines. As we progress to the red clay of Europe it will only become harder for the Scot to find his rhythm.
The men's draw now opens up considerably and gives the Roger and Rafa show a great chance to re-assert itself on the stage in Miami. The greatest tennis rivalry of the 21st Century has yet to hit the court in 2010 and is due for another riveting installment. Federer won their last encounter, in May 2009, at the Masters event in Madrid while Nadal had won the five battles prior to that.
Federer's draw looks like smooth sailing for the world number one player, with little opposition expected from Florent Serra in the third round. Tomas Berdych and a potential rematch with Marcos Baghdatis (who defeated Roger in Indian Wells last week) are on the horizon. Federer should have shaken off all of the post-Aussie Open rust by that point.
For Rafa, a tough third round tussle with David Nalbandian is on deck which should be a real treat to watch. Nalbandian has historically done well against Nadal - a feat that few players on tour can boast. The Argentine owns a 2-1 head-to-head advantage over Rafa, all on hard courts. I give the edge to Nadal in this one due to the fact Nalbandian has only recently returned from a lengthy injury layoff. It should still make for great tennis, so catch it if you can.
American Andy Roddick has a favorable draw with the 18th seeded Tommy Robredo his highest ranked potential opponent between here and the semi-finals. Sweden's Robin Soderling also has a nice path now that Andy Murray has been taken out of the equation in his section.
As for the WTA Tour, number one seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova is defending her lead position in the draw and advanced to the fourth round with a victory over Agnes Szavay. I must admit that seeing Kuznetsova hold the top seed in a tournament of this depth is somewhat surprising. While she did win the French Open a year ago, her play in 2010 has been abysmal. A fourth round loss at the Aussie Open and first or second round losses in each of her other appearances does not bode well for her season. Of course now that I've said that look for Kuznetsova to make a real run in Miami. My Murray vs Djokovic final prediction has already blown up in my face.
One player I've got a great feeling about at this tournament and for her career in general is Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer. Since bursting onto the scene with her U.S. Open semi-final appearance in 2009 this kid has been on a real tear. She won her first tournament of 2010 and then had a strong run at the Aussie Open where she endured three tough qualifying matches and made it to the round of sixteen before bowing out in three tight sets against returning country-woman Justine Henin. She's had a bit of a tough go since then, but has a nice draw here to turn things around. At only twenty years old she represents a very bright future for women's tennis in Belgium - already brimming with talent due to the returns of Henin and Kim Clijsters.
Other notable results of late include Henin knocking off 5th seed Elena Dementieva while Vera Zvonareva schooled American youngster Melanie Oudin 6-1, 6-2. I sure hope that kid is taking this all in stride because in the long haul I think she's going to be a great player.
Hope you're all enjoying the tennis if you have television access or are lucky enough to be in Miami for this great tournament. Keep checking back for more updates.