Federer and Nadal again. Are you ready?

Sorry I’m late with the Miami picks, much of the second round is already set, but I was sick earlier in the week and the ATP site wasn’t working properly yesterday.

James Blake over Marat Safin should be an easy pick but Blake has been maddeningly inconsistent. He lost his first match at Las Vegas and ended up ringing the death knell for round robins when ATP CEO Etienne de Villiers mistakenly gave Blake a free pass to the quarterfinals after Blake’s second round opponent retired on him. Blake then lost to Julien Benneteau at Indian Wells as soon as he realized he didn’t have to face Roger Federer who shockingly lost his first round match. It’s a good thing Blake’s coach is a wise and patient guy, I would be pulling my hair out.

Mikhail Youzhny and Marcos Baghdatis isn’t so easy to call either. Youzhny lost in the first round at Indian Wells and Baghdatis hasn’t decided whether he wants to play outdoors this year, he’s 9-1 on indoor courts and 5-5 on outdoor courts.

I’m going with Blake and Youzhny only because they’re the favorites but I wouldn’t lay my lunch money on either one. If Blake does get through he should meet Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Blake is 3-0 lifetime over Nadal but I think Nadal wins this time as Blake hasn’t totally recovered.

Tomas Berdych has slipped behind two other young players, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. Berdych is only 21 but I’m losing hope for him. He hasn’t won a title since winning the Masters Series event in Paris in 2005. He’s playing as if he already reached the ceiling of his desire. Very few people in the universe have the all-consuming desire necessary to get to the top ten and stay there and it looks like Murray and Djokovic do. I have Berdych losing to Chela.

I’m assuming that Andy Murray can take out Fernando Gonzalez by applying the domino theory. Murray beat Tommy Haas on one good ankle in Indian Wells and Haas took out Gonzalez easily before he met up with Murray. Besides, Murray is my new favorite player.

Nikolay Davydenko has the easiest draw and should get to the semifinals.

Murray and Andy Roddick could meet in the quarterfinals. They’ve played each other twice this year on hard court and split. According to court speed ratings at tennisinsight.com, Miami is significantly faster than Indian Wells so I’m giving the advantage to Roddick. If Roddick meets Nadal in the semifinals the result could be closer than the debacle at Indian Wells where Nadal beat Roddick 6-4, 6-3, but the end result will be the same.

So, tennis fans, Nadal was on a roll last week and it looks like we could get Federer-Nadal X. About time I say. As for the winner, I agree with my co-writer Pat Davis, bet the house on Federer in Miami after his untimely exit at Indian Wells.

You can see the draw and my picks in the draws here.

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