By Steve Gorten
KEY BISCAYNE – One by one, randomly choosing from the blue poker chips he’d just shuffled on the table in front of him, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga selected the seeds’ placement for the men’s singles draw of the 2015 Miami Open.
The unveiling of the Women’s singles bracket, which was determined Sunday, followed Monday’s live draw ceremony, which took place at noon inside Crandon Park Tennis Center.
When Women’s first-round play starts Tuesday, seven-time tournament champion and No. 1 seed Serena Williams, No. 2 Maria Sharapova, No. 3 Simona Halep and No. 4 Caroline Wozniacki will be the favorites to reach the semifinals. If all four advance through, Williams and Halep would meet with Sharapova versus Wozniacki on the other side.
Four-time tournament champ Novak Djokovic is the top Men’s seed, followed by No. 2 Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Andy Murray and No. 4 Kei Nishikori. Nadal would face Murray in the semifinals should both advance. Murray will potentially play sixth-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka in the quarterfinals.
Williams and Djokovic are the defending champions at the Miami Open.
Williams, who pulled out of last weeks BNP Paribas Open, is set to play her first match in Key Biscayne Friday at 8 p.m. Djokovic will play his first match during the night session on Saturday.
While some questions still linger regarding the health of Serena Williams, Lisicki, who was also present at the draw ceremony sounded less concerned about the latest developments.
“Well, I don’t think anyone is thinking about that right now because you first have to win your first couple of rounds,” said No. 27 seed Sabine Lisicki of Germany, who was present at Monday’s draw ceremony. “Everybody wants to win [the tournament], so you have to be prepared for those matches.”
Lisicki is coming off a semifinals appearance in Indian Wells in which she lost to Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 3-6, 1-6.
“Indian Wells was amazing,” said Lisicki, who has won a tournament on every surface. “It was my first Premier Mandatory semifinal. It was a great experience — some really good and tough matches. That was fun to be a part of.”
While Lisicki hopes to build on her recent success, Tsonga will be making his season debut after sitting out the past three months with an injury to his right forearm. He said Monday that he didn’t pick up a racket for a couple of months before starting to hit again three weeks ago. Tsonga, the No. 11 seed, would potentially face No. 8 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.
“I’m curious to see how it will be,” Tsonga said of his first action in months. “I don’t expect something huge. I just want to play my best in the moment and we’ll see.”
Milos Raonic (No. 5), David Ferrer (No. 7), Grigor Dimitrov (No. 9) and Feliciano Lopez (No. 10) are the other top 10 seeds in the men’s draw, with first-round matches set to start Wednesday.
On the women’s side, Ana Ivanovic is the No. 5 seed, and seeded just below her are Eugenie Bouchard, Agnieszka Radwanska, Ekaterina Makarova, Andrea Petkovic and Lucie Safarova.
All 32 seeds in the Men’s and Women’s draws have a first-round byes.