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Medvedev Top Tennis Seed in Depleted Miami draw, Fellow Russians Rublev and Karatsev Could also Contend

World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev is the top seed at the Miami Open. EPA-EFE/DEAN LEWINS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

By Ricky Dimon

The 2021 Miami Open has made more headlines for what it is not rather than for what it is.

What it is not, of course, is a tournament with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and a whole host of other top players. What it is, however, is a tournament that presents an incredible opportunity for just about anyone to capture a rare Masters 1000 title.

Off the court, tournament director James Blake has dealt with withdrawals, Covid-19 protocols, and ticket-price controversies. The list goes far beyond Djokovic, Nadal, and Federer–but it’s too long to cover the entirety of it here without penning a full novel. To be short, the women’s withdrawal list includes Serena Williams. Ticket prices are through the roof, and the number of LLs (that’s lucky losers if you aren’t familiar with tennis draw jargon) will likely be the same. 

On the court, however, not unlike the 2020 U.S. Open there should be wildly entertaining and high-stakes tennis from start to finish.

With Djokovic resting up for the clay-court swing, world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev is the top seed. The Russian has already won three Masters 1000 titles in addition to the 2020 Nitto ATP Finals, and he is the favorite to add another hugely important trophy to his haul. Compatriots Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev are also two of the hottest players on tour and have to be considered title contenders. Yes, based on current form and the depleted draw, even Karatsev–the world No. 27 and No. 17 seed–has a real shot.

Former Miami Open finalist Alexander Zverev is fresh off his run to the Acapulco title. EPA-EFE/David Guzman

Other top title threats are Acapulco champion Alexander Zverev and Acapulco runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Zverev and Medvedev are in the top half of the bracket, on a collision course for the semifinals. Medvedev’s path through his section could feature big server after big server, starting with Sam Querrey in round two and continuing with Reilly Opelka in round three and John Isner in the quarterfinals. Medvedev’s top-eight seed in that quarter of the draw is Roberto Bautista Agut.

A former Miami runner-up (to John Isner in 2018), Zverev could kick off his fortnight against Carlos Alcaraz–whom the German also opened with in Acapulco. Jannik Sinner and Doha champion Nikoloz Basilashvili are also possible early-round opponents for Zverev.

At the bottom of the draw, Tsitsipas may be in line for a third-round date with Kei Nishikori and a quarterfinal contest against Denis Shapovalov. Much to Marton Fucsovic’s chagrin, he will likely meet familiar foe Rublev yet again if the Hungarian advances to the third round. We could also see another Rublev-Karatsev match in the Miami quarterfinals (Karatsev ended his countryman’s 23-match winning streak at the 500 level last week in Dubai).

Qualifying action got underway on Monday before the main draw takes center stage on Wednesday.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.