2011 Sony Ericsson Open – Nick’s Picks – Men’s Singles Round 3
James Blake (USA) vs. Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Djokovic is 2-0 against Blake and beat him in last year’s US Open. This should be an exciting match because you will have the crowd rooting hard for Blake, and there has been no one better than Djokovic in 2011. He’s 18-0 on the year and has all 3 events he has entered (Australian Open, Dubai and Indian Wells where he beat Federer and Nadal). He is now the #2 player in the world and I don’t think anyone wants to play against him right now.
Blake may have to do some things he isn’t used to. He will have to try and surprise Djokovic, because if he tries to go stroke-for-stroke with the Serb, he will not have any success. Djokovic has no weakness and with his confidence level where it is, I cannot see him losing this match. I am certain Blake will fight hard, but in the end Djokovic just has too much of everything.
Nick’s Pick – Djokovic in 2 sets
Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) vs. Robin Soderling (SWE)
Del Potro is 2-1 against Soderling, but the two haven’t played since 2009. Wow, when the draw came out, this was the match everyone was looking forward to. You’ve got two of the best in the world going at it in the 3rd round, which is something you just don’t see anymore but because Del Potro is still coming back from his injury he is still trying to get his ranking back up. Both men possess big weapons from both sides and both have huge serves. This is a tough match to call.
Soderling has had an excellent year thus far, posting a 19-2 record and winning three tournaments. He did take an early loss at Indian Wells, but I don’t think that will effect him. I think the difference in this match will be Del Potro’s ability to take the ball early and on the rise and catch Soderling out of position. Because of his height, he is able to hit the ball when it is above his shoulders and this makes it very difficult for his opponents to anticipate where the next shot will go. This match will go three sets, and in the end, I look for Del Potro to pull it out!
Nick’s Pick – Del Potro in 3 sets
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Feliciano Lopez (ESP)
Nadal is 6-2 against Lopez and they split their two matches in 2010. Any time you get two Spaniards together, you know you are in for a good match, and that is especially true in Miami. Lopez is a big, strong lefty with a powerful serve and a huge forehand. His movement is solid, but at times he makes too many errors and tends to lose focus. If he has any lapse of focus in this match, Nadal will jump all over him.
Against Nishikori, Nadal looked extremely focused and played great tennis. His serve was on, he was moving well and his groundstrokes were penetrating. He will need to return serve well against Lopez and use his serve to get some free points against his fellow Spaniard. Nadal knows what he has to do to beat Lopez and I think he moves on in two tough sets.
Nick’s Pick – Nadal in 2 sets
Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Juan Monaco (ARG)
Federer is 1-0 against Monaco, but that match was back in 2007 and on clay so that doesn’t have any impact on this match. Monaco will have plenty of supporters in the stands against Federer, and he is a dangerous player. He moves well, has very good groundstrokes and is a fighter. Sometimes his emotions can get the best of him, but he definitely loves to compete.
Federer looked great against Stepanek in the second round and he needs a big tournament to show the rest of the world that he can still beat the best. He has a tough road ahead of him, but you should never doubt the Fed. I look for Federer to advance, but this should be a fun match.
Nick’s Pick – Federer in 2 sets