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Ricky’s Preview and Pick For The Miami Open Tennis Final: Zverev vs. Isner

Venus Williams (L) of the USA in action against Danielle Collins (R) of the USA as the sun sets on the stadium court during their women’s quarterfinal round match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 28 March 2018. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER



By Ricky Dimon


Something will have to give when the men’s singles final of the Miami Open final takes center stage on Sunday after. After all, both Alexander Zverev and John Isner have been completely on fire throughout the fortnight–but, of course, only one can prevail.


Sunday will mark the fourth career encounter between the two Saddlebook training buddies and one-time doubles partners (2016 Rogers Cup). Zverev is sweeping the head-to-head series 3-0, including 2-0 on this hard-court surface. The current world No. 5 got the job done 6-4, 6-2 at the 2016 Shanghai Masters, 6-7(5), 7-6(7), 7-6(5) in the Miami third round last spring, and 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-1 a couple of months later at the Rome Masters.


Even with the likes of Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Stan Wawrinka on the sidelines plus Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori among those who are rusty, this is still an unexpected final. Isner’s appearance is especially surprising. The big-serving American had been just 2-6 in 2018 prior to his arrival at Crandon Park, but he has suddenly picked up wins over Jiri Vesely, Mikhail Youzhny, Marin Cilic, Hyeon Chung, and Indian Wells champion Juan Martin Del Potro. Isner has won nine straight sets and produced a particularly stunning performance while defeating Del Potro 6-1, 7-6(2) in the semis.


“Things are just clicking,” Miami’s 14th seed explained. “If I’m returning well and getting in return games, that should bode well for me given how I serve. (I’m) very happy it’s all sort of coming together right now…. I just know with my game, if I’m doing the right things, it doesn’t really matter who I’m playing; I’m going to be very tough to beat.”


No one has come close to beating Zverev since his first two matches, when he was extended to three sets by both Daniil Medvedev and David Ferrer. The 20-year-old raised his level thereafter to get the best of Nick Kyrgios, Borna Coric, and Pablo Carreno Busta. His last eight sets have resulted in scorelines of 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-2 dating back to the second a third frames against Ferrer.


“I think I had other great matches, as well,” Zverev said when asked to assess his level of play following the win over Carreno Busta. “I think the match the other night (against Coric) was great. I think the match against David Ferrer was a very good match.


“I think I’m playing okay. I’m playing well now. Hopefully I can continue so in the final, and we’ll see how that goes.”


Finals have been generally great for Zverev, who is one win away from a third career Masters 1000 triumph–having lifted the trophy last year in Rome and Montreal. He is also 6-3 overall in ATP title matches, including a 5-1 mark in 2017. Isner, on the other hand, is 0-3 in Masters 1000 championships and 0-7 lifetime in finals above the 250-point level (12-5 in 250-point finals). Granted, his Masters 1000 final setbacks have come at the hands of Roger Federer (2012 in Indian Wells), Rafael Nadal (2013 in Cincinnati), and Andy Murray (2016 in Paris). It may not get much easier against Zverev.


Said Isner, “Sascha, he’s the best young player this game has.”


In what is likely to be a competitive, high-quality contest, Zverev’s confidence from his past Masters 1000 success and his 3-0 record in the H2H against Isner may be the difference.


Prediction: Zverev in 3


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.


Editors note: Zverev in straight sets.

• 2 tiebreakers…. We all know Isner is a marathon man…. Why go the distance..

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