The Miami Masters, in which some of the big names make their entrance today, likes to think of itself as "the fifth Grand Slam". In practice the tournament offers the same rewards in terms of ranking points as the other eight Masters Series events, though for Andy Murray it holds particular significance.
The 23-year-old Scot sets up camp in Miami to train at key periods of the year, while outdoor hard courts, particularly in the United States, usually bring the best out of him. He has won four of his six Masters Series titles in America, including Miami two years ago.
This year Murray has even more reason to hope for a good run at Crandon Park. The world No 5 has not won a set, let alone a match, since his Australian Open semi-final two months ago and needs to put his season back on track if he is to avoid falling into the same rut from which it took him nearly five months to escape last year.
Having had a first-round bye, Murray has the chance to ease himself into the tournament today when he faces Alex Bogomolov junior, the world No 118. Murray will be well aware that he lost to an even lower-ranked American, Donald Young, the world No 143, in Indian Wells a fortnight ago, but Bogomolov, at 27, is not an emerging talent like Young. He has never been ranked higher than No 97 in the world and has won just $756,023 (£469,000) in prize money, compared with Murray's $15,113,981 (£9.38m).
If Murray wins, the challenges are likely to become much tougher. He is seeded to meet John Isner (world No 33), the big-serving American, in the third round, Spain's Fernando Verdasco (world No 9) in the fourth and Novak Djokovic (No 2), who is unbeaten this year, in the quarter-finals, the winner scheduled to play Robin Soderling (No 4). Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are seeded to meet in the semi-finals in the other half of the draw.
Elena Baltacha went out in the second round of the women's event yesterday when she was beaten 7-6, 6-3 by the Czech Republic's Klara Zakopalova, who had beaten the British No 1 for the loss of only three games in Doha last month.
Britain's Davis Cup match against Luxembourg from July 8-10 will be held at the Braehead Arena in Glasgow, which has staged two other ties in the last five years. Murray is expected to play in the match.Reuse content