Djokovic the target as Nadal looks to end Miami hoodoo

Novak Djokovic suffered a surprise loss to veteran German Philipp Kohlschreiber at Indian Wells, but the world number one remains the man to beat going into the Miami Open.

Djokovic is level with Andre Agassi as the most successful player in the history of the tournament, with the most recent of his six titles coming in 2016.

The Serb’s biggest threat is likely to come from old nemesis Rafael Nadal and he appears a real contender to claim one of the biggest prizes missing from his trophy cabinet. Nadal reached his first final in 2005 and has been involved in four more since, but the Miami Open trophy has proven to be elusive.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner has looked in fine form in Indian Wells however, and should carry that momentum through to Florida next week.

The big target for both heavyweights is adding to their respective Grand Slam titles and Nadal is the 1.90 favourite to land yet another trophy in Paris, while Djokovic is a 2.90 shot.

Nadal is a real threat and may well become the first Spanish player ever to win the Miami Open, but there are a few options at bigger odds that are worth considering.

Khacahanov on the rise

Russian 22-year-old Karen Khachanov is starting to establish himself as a real star rather than a rising one and backed up his growing reputation by winning his first Masters 1000 title in Paris last year – beating Djokovic in straight sets in the final.

Khachanov, 51.00 to win the French Open and 41.00 for Wimbledon, downed current Miami Open champion John Isner at Indian Wells and looks to have hit top form going into the tournament.

Nick Kyrgios is also worth a mention, despite his second round Indian Wells exit.  The Australian may have fallen at the first hurdle after a first-round bye, but that defeat was at the hands of Kohlschreiber, considering he went on to see off the top seed that loss isn’t as damning as it first appeared.

Svitolina the target in Miami

Elina Svitolina, who is 15.00 to win the US Open later this year, has been in excellent form on the WTA Tour and may well go all the way at this week’s Indian Wells event.

The Ukrainian world number seven has three losses in 2019, since losing her first match of the new season in Brisbane.  Two of those defeats have come at the hands of players who have gone on to win the tournament (Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open and Belinda Bencic in Dubai) and her other loss was to Simona Halep.

Svitolina has been close on a few occasions already this season and even if she doesn’t come away with the Indian Wells trophy, she looks a real threat going into Miami.

Angelique Kerber and Switzerland’s Bencic also look to be on an upward curve right now and are also worth some consideration ahead of the Miami Open, particularly as some big guns look best avoided.

Osaka’s form has dipped after her Australian Open success and was well beaten by Bencic in California.  Halep is yet to hit her stride this year after splitting with long-time coach Darren Cahill last year and Serena Williams’ fitness is a concern, after she had to withdraw from Indian Wells in the third round.