Despite the final lost in Indian Wells, Roger Federer is still the favorite at the Miami Open, the second Masters 1000 of the season. The defending champion will play against a qualifier on Saturday, then he will have a hypothetical third round against Fernando Verdasco.
In the fourth round, he would play either Pablo Carreno Busta and Adrian Mannarino. That will be an important match for him because it would guarantee him the world no. 1 ranking, at least until May 20th, when the Rome tournament will end.
In the quarter-finals, Federer could play against Kevin Anderson, while in the semi-finals a possible second edition of the 2017 challenge against Nick Kyrgios. Or, he could play against Alexander Zverev. The Australian has been struggling with an injury and this is a comeback for him this year.
Kyrgios could meet Fabio Fognini in the fourth round, and Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals. The German will be trying to find convincing performances and continuity after a disappointing start of the season.
In the bottom-half, Juan Martin del Potro will try to repeat his great run in Indian Wells. The path of the Argentinian player is tricky as it was in Indian Wells: a possible third round against Kei Nishikori, fourth round with Novak Djokovic, and a possible semi-final with Marin Cilic.
The Serb does not start as a favorite and though he has said that he is pain-free, there will be a lot of scrutiny on how his body, especially his elbow, holds up.
The candidates for the final, as seen so far, seem to be just Federer and del Potro. The Swiss Maestro, after the successes in Melbourne and Rotterdam, seemed more tired and physically less solid than the months of January and February. He also had a certain nervousness.
However, after seeing the performances of his opponents, I see him as the favorite for the title. The Argentine will need to maintain the level he displayed in Indian Wells to likely upset Federer again.
Victory: Federer 55%, del Potro 45%
Final: Federer vs. del Potro
Outsiders: Novak Djokovic, Borna Coric