Surging Novak Djokovic takes aim at March title double
World number one Novak Djokovic will try to put extra distance between himself and the chasing pack, taking confidence from his weekend title in California into the Miami Open.
Djokovic won the Indian Wells trophy for a second consecutive year by beating Roger Federer 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2 and will try to repeat his March trophy double from last year at the ATP and WTA hardcourt event, which begins Wednesday.
With Federer not playing Miami by choice and instead taking his family skiing before a fortnight`s training back home in Switzerland, the way is open for Djokovic, second seed Rafael Nadal and number three Andy Murray to add ranking points before the switch to European clay next month.
With more than half a decade of rivalry between the "Big Four," any edge is welcome in the heated competition among the elite.
"We still keep on pushing and moving the borders," said Djokovic, winner of eight Grand Slam titles to 17 for Federer, 13 for Nadal and two for Murray. "We still keep on improving, all of us.
"We are playing better than we did a few years ago, and it`s because of these rivalries. That`s something that is special in our sport."
The Serb will be pleased to meet up again with coach Boris Becker and will make sure he lets his German mentor know that he has now won 50 career titles to Becker`s 49.
"I`ve got to look forward to get to Miami and have a dinner with Boris. I think it`s on him this time. I surpassed his 49th title, so that gives a little bit of special spice to this title."All 16 men`s seeds open with byes, with Djokovic to play the winner between Martin Klizan and Paolo Lorenzi.
Number two Nadal was unable to impress at Indian Wells, with the Spaniard a constant complainer about the balls being used. But with a 2014 final run to defend, he will need to bury his worries if he hopes to win his first Miami crown.
"Sometimes with losses like I had few times in the last couple of weeks, maybe you are going down, but is not my case. I think every week I am better," Nadal said.
"Every week I am more competitive. Every week I feel stronger, quicker on court again. My movements are good again."
Murray, who won the title at his training base city in 2009 and 2013, is coming off a semi-final hammering by Djokovic in California and looking for a first title since last autumn.
US Open finalist Kei Nishikori of Japan takes the fourth seeding ahead of Canadian Milos Raonic, beaten by Federer in the Indian Wells semis. Swiss Stan Wawrinka is sixth. Spain`s David Ferrer takes the seventh seeding ahead of Czech Tomas Berdych.
Serena Williams will again be queen of the women`s draw at her home tournament, although the 33-year-old may have a late fitness worry after withdrawing prior to her Indian Wells semi-final with eventual champion Simona Halep due to a knee injury.
Williams said that a few days of rest should put her right, but if she does take her place in the field, the 19-time Grand Slam winner till be a top target for second-seeded rival Maria Sharapova and Halep.
Dane Caroline Wozniacki is seeded fourth, ahead of Ana Ivanovic and Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who suffered a collapse in form in a fourth-round Indian Wells loss to a qualifier, sixth.
Poland`s seventh seed Agnieszka Radwanska also has ground to make up after a third-round exit in California. Russian Ekaterina Makarova is seeded eighth.