After a near perfect first quarter of the season, Roger Federer enters the Miami Masters with a 50-50 chance of winning the title, thanks in part to the luck of the draw. Who are the other biggest male and female contenders for the Key Biscayne title?
Using the Game Insight Group Elo player ratings, we can forecast the most likely outcome of the 2018 Miami Open. The predictions in this post are based on 5,000 simulations of the Miami draw.
Despite being denied his first bid for a Masters in 2018 just a few days ago in Indian Wells, Roger Federer is projected to be the strong favorite for the title in Miami. With a 55% title chance, Federer eclipses the next most probable winner, Novak Djokovic, by nearly 3 times. Both stats are a direct refelction of the dominance Federer has shown on hard court since the 2017 Australian Open along side the under-performance/absence of some of the biggest men’s names.
Could Juan Martin Del Potro go 2-for-2? Del Potro is the third pick for the title at a strong 11%. Chances for the rest of the draw are slim but among the more probable underdogs for the win are several of the tour’s young favorites: Nick Kyrgios, Alexander Zverev and Hyeon Chung.
Men’s Quarter of Pain
Federer didn’t need any luck going into Miami but he got a big dose of it with drawing quarter 1. No player in his quarter is among the top 10 picks for the title. Kevin Anderson is the toughest competitor he could come up against on his way to the semifinal, who has a less than 1% projected chance for a title win.
Any other top pick who had gotten the luck of landing in quarter 1 would expect a 10 percentage point gain in their chance for the title.
Quarter 3, by contrast, is stacked with likely title winners, making it the most difficult quarter by far. Three of the top 4 title contenders are in quarter 3: Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Grigor Dimitrov. If Djokovic is going to make a big move in Miami, the luck of the draw has made it a much more difficult proposition than it could have been.
After looking at the situation for the men’s games, it is hard to imagine a more different set of forecasts than what we see on the women’s side. While the men’s predictions can be summed up as ‘lopsided’, the women’s projections show an even contest at the top, which should make for another nail-biting 2018 WTA event.
Simona Halep sits at the top of the picks for the title at 14%. This gives her a very narrow edge over Caroline Wozniacki, who denied Halep a first slam title this January.
For the remaining top 8 of women’s draw, any two of the contenders are separated by only a few percentage points. That includes Serena Williams, who would rarely have been placed as low as 7th among picks pre-2017. It all reiterates the closeness of the competition for the WTA in 2018.
Women’s Quarter of Pain
When we look at the luck of the women’s draw, we find that quarter 3 is, once again, the killer quarter. In that quarter, Elina Svitolina is joined by 3 of the top 10 contenders, the most of any other quarter, including Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams, and Darya Kasatkina, Indian Wells finalist.
Had Halep landed in quarter 3, we would have expected her chances for the title to drop by as much as 10 percentage points, making her, like Federer, one of the biggest draw winners in South Beach.