The Sony Ericsson Open is Andy’s home tournament. No, he’s not suddenly American (After waiting 76 years for a Slam winner you’d need another war to prize him away from Britain), but as he’s set up a 2nd home in the city, and uses Crandon Park, Key Biscayne as a training base – normally in the off-season and after the summer swing of tennis ends at Wimbledon. Crandon Park, by the way, is the actual complex used by the Miami Masters event. So, as he has a house in Surrey, just south of London, the Sony Ericsson Open is as much Andy’s home tournament as Wimbledon is.
Murray won the title here in 2009, so a win in 2013 would take him level with coach Ivan Lendl, who himself won the second ever tourney (Then held in Delray Beach, FL) in 1986 and repeated the feat in 1989. Whereas his Indian Wells exit to eventual finalist Juan Martin del Potro was nothing less than disappointing, it was quite a tournament of upsets, with many seeds falling early, including David Ferrer in the first round. The combination of very fast conditions (High heat levels and low humidity) with a grippy, relatively slow hard-court did for many people – Murray will not have any such excuses in Miami, nor will he ask for them.
There’s no Federer here, as the grand statesman of tennis manages his schedule, and no Rafael Nadal, as the resurgent Spaniard decides not to push his luck with his knees after an “unexpectedly” long run at Indian Wells. So Murray is seeded second in the draw – his first match (Seeds get a first round bye, just like at Indian Wells) will be either against qualifier Marc Gicquel or Australian Bernard Tomic (You know… if he gets there). His likely opponents aren’t easy. It’s a veritable who’s who of up and coming danger-men in tennis, interspersed with battled-hardened pros.
After Tomic, Murray is likely to face Grigor Dimitrov – dubbed “Mini-Fed” for his playing style (That’s just style so far, not success – it seems one handed backhands realy are that rare these days) then perhaps Jerzy Janowicz, Marin Cilic or Tsonga, then Tomas Berdych. Not exactly an easy run. But each one of those players will be looking at the draws themselves and thinking 2Well, I could play him… if I get past Murray of course” before slowly folding up their print out of the draw, putting it away in their pocket and changing the subject. Well, each of those players except for Bernard Tomic, who will be practising his signature and picking out his sunglasses for a photo-shoot with the trophy already – and good luck to him, self-confidence isn’t a sin (It can make you look silly sometimes though).
A Murray v Djokovic final is the anticipated final, and Djokovic will be the favourite for it. But he shouldn’t be. Murray’s Miami training sessions are designed specifically to take down Novak. He’s the player that Murray has had the fiercest rivalry (the friendship between them is despite their on-court meetings, not because of it) and the player that Murray will most likely have to beat in most tournaments if he hopes to win them – and that should stretch out for years. His physical fitness regime was designed to neutralise the threats Djokovic pose.
Andy Murray will have the home comforts similar to when he plays at events near his surrey mansion, but none of the huge pressure heaped on by the British media. In an interview with The Scotsman newspaper, Murray said “”I feel like, when I play on those courts [in Miami], I can open up a bit more, play aggressive and time the ball better so I would hope that, if I can get through a round or two in Miami, I’ll start to play better and better.”
Ivan Lendl, also an East Coast of Florida resident, will be making sure that Murray’s preparations are as vigorous as ever, and will hope that he can channel his work rate onto the court in a tournament that perhaps so far Andy Murray underachieved at.
So all things going to plan, Murray will meet Djokovic in the final, and this time he’ll shade it – due to home advantage.