The ATP Tour has switched from the California desert to the east coast, where the Masters 1000 Sony Open takes place for the next 11 days in Miami, writes Sean Calvert...
The slow Laykold outdoor hard courts at Crandon Park make for tough conditions for the attacking players, with defences often on top, as can be highlighted by Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic doing well here and David Ferrer making the final 12 months ago.
Twelve first round matches kick off proceedings on Wednesday, with the action beginning at around 15.00 UK time.
Victor Hanescu 1.83, Thiemo de Bakker 1.92 – starts at 16.05
I like the chances of 1.92 underdog de Bakker in this 17.00 UK time clash against the veteran Romanian, who has a very poor record in Key Biscayne.
The Dutchman has been surprisingly solid in qualifying here this week, with his two wins to reach the main draw involving three tie breaks – all of which Thiemo managed to win without facing a set point.
When this streaky type gets on a run it generally pays to side with him and he certainly has the game to hit through these courts against an opponent who has won just two of his 10 matches at this venue.
Victor has only ever won one match here that didn’t involve a retirement and that was way back in 2005 when he defeated 113 ranked Antony Dupuis and he looks worth taking on again this time around, with just one main draw win since Melbourne to his name.
The Dutchman has the advantage of familiarity of the conditions in his favour and there isn’t a lot going for the Romanian in this one.
Andrey Golubev 2.50, Ivan Dodig 1.50 – starts at 17.05 GMT
There looks to be a decent chance of another underdog winner in this 19.00 UK time encounter, which will actually be the third time that Dodig and Golubev have faced each other at this tournament.
Their previous meetings here ended one apiece, with Golubev winning in 2010 and Dodig in 2011 and in both matches the loser faded badly, with 6-1 and 6-0 final sets featuring in each.
They haven’t met on the tour since that 2011 clash and it’s quite unusual that three straight meetings between players will all have taken place at the same tournament.
Dodig is finding it tough to back up a great 2013 and so far this season the big hitting Croatian has suffered five defeats as a 1.5 favourite or shorter, with losses coming at 1.16 and 1.18, the latter of which was last week at Indian Wells to Alejandro Gonzalez, so confidence can't be high.
Dodig has a 4-7 overall record in 2014 and he has been troubled with a back problem this campaign, which doesn’t fill me with assurance as a 1.50 shot today.
Golubev, somewhat questionably, retired at the Irving Challenger in Texas last week before promptly arriving here at Crandon Park where he won his two qualifiers without dropping a set, so I suspect that his fitness is fine.
It has the look of a three setter about it and the overs is worthy of consideration, but these slow courts have never been a happy hunting ground for Dodig, whose last 64 appearance 12 months ago is his best here so far.
Big servers generally don’t do well here and I prefer the game of Golubev at 2.50.
Back de Bakker to beat Hanescu at 1.92
Back Golubev to beat Dodig at 2.50