Defending champion Roger Federer has an easy passage to the final rounds of the season's second Masters 1000 tournament — Miami Open 2018, starting Tuesday, March 21, in Florida.
The world no. 1 is heading into the tournament after faltering in the final hurdle of his title defense against Juan Martin del Potro at Indian Wells. Notably, the 36-year-old had won his third Sunshine double last year, right after ending his four-year Grand Slam drought in Melbourne.
With the top 32 seeds having been handed a first-round bye, Federer will open his campaign against a qualifier in the R62 later this week. The 20-time Grand Slam champion is likely to meet sixth seed Kevin Anderson in the quarter-final.
Tenth seed Tomas Berdych and 16th seed Pablo Carreno Busta are also part of the top quarter of the draw but the 20-time Grand Slam champion is unlikely to be troubled at least until the quarter-finals.
Del Potro vs Djokovic in the fourth round?
Sixth seed del Potro, who has moved to the sixth spot on ATP rankings after winning back-to-back titles at Acapulco and Indian Wells, headlines the second half of the draw. He will open his campaign against the winner of the first-round tie between unseeded Robin Haase and Yuichi Sugita.
Meanwhile, six-time champion Novak Djokovic, who has been seeded ninth, will face the winner of the R124 clash between Mischa Zverev and Benoit Paire. The Serb had recovered earlier than expected from his elbow injury only to bow out of Indian Wells as early as in the first round after shock defeat to Taro Daniel of Japan.
Concerns have been raised over the former world no. 1 player's ability to challenge the ones at the top following a poor start to the 2018 season. The 12-time Grand Slam champion though will be keen to put doubts to rest in what has been one of his favorite hunting grounds.
Nonetheless, Djokovic needs to step up and make a good start as he may face in-form del Potro as early as in the fourth round.
Zverev, Cilic, and Dimitrov eyeing return to winning ways
Fourth seed Alexander Zverev, who was ousted from Indian Wells Masters in the first round, will be looking to make a strong comeback. The 20-year-old German play his first match against the winner of the first-round tie between Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
While second seed and Australian Open finalist Marin Cilic will be eager to return to winning ways following early exits at Rio Open and Indian Wells, third seed Grigor Dimitrov needs to buckle up if he is to retain his place in the top five of ATP rankings.
Meanwhile, Australia's Nick Kyrgios, who reached the semi-final last year, will be returning to competitive action following his recovery from a wrist injury that hampered his performances in Australia's Davis Cup World Group first-round tie against Germany in February.
Possible quarter-final matches at Miami Open 2018
Roger Federer (1) vs Kevin Anderson (6)
Alexander Zverev (4) vs Borna Coric (29)
Juan Martin del Potro (5) vs Grigor Dimitrov (3)
Marin Cilic (2) vs David Goffin (7)