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Ricky’s Preview and Picks for the 2021 Miami Open Men’s Tennis • Title Totally up for Grabs

By Ricky Dimon

This isn’t your average Masters 1000 tournament. Daniil Medvedev occupies the top line of the draw, Stefanos Tsitsipas is at the bottom, and the top eight seeds are rounded out by Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Diego Schwartzman, Denis Shapovalov, Roberto Bautista Agut, and David Goffin.

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer are nowhere to be found. The same goes for Dominic Thiem, Matteo Berrettini, Gael Monfils, Stan Wawrinka, Borna Coric, and Nick Kyrgios, among many others.

At the same time, similar to the 2020 U.S. Open this tournament will provide plenty of intrigue with the Big 3 absent. After all, the title is completely up for grabs–at least relative to most other huge events such as slams and Masters 1000s. Sure top seed Daniil Medvedev is a clear favorite and Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and Andrey Rublev are the obvious challengers, but it would not be surprising if this draw gets blown up similar to that of the NCAA Tournament.

March Madness on the tennis court, anyone?

Miami Open

Where: Key Biscayne, Fla.
Surface: Hard
Points: 1000
Prize money: $3,343,785

Top seed: Daniil Medvedev
2019 champion: Roger Federer (not playing)

Draw analysis: Medvedev’s path to the semifinals may not be particularly fun. Potentially standing in his way are big-serving Americans Sam Querrey (second round), Reilly Opelka (third round), and John Isner (quarterfinals). With Isner rusty and not exactly playing great tennis at the moment, 2019 Miami quarterfinalist Roberto Bautista Agut and 2019 semifinalist Felix Auger-Aliassime are more likely quarterfinal opponents for the second-ranked Russian.Medvedev and Zverev are on a collision course for the semis. Zverev is coming off a title in Acapulco and conditions will be similar in Miami, so the seventh-ranked German has to like his chances. He is a former runner-up at this event, too (lost to Isner in the 2018 final). Zverev could get his trophy bid started with Carlos Alcaraz–against whom he also opened in Acapulco. Jannik Sinner and Doha champion Nikoloz Basilashvili are also potential early-round foes for the 23-year-old.

Rublev’s road to the semis is likely to feature opponents with whom he is especially familiar. A meeting with Marton Fucsovics in the third round would be their fourth scheduled matchup already this season (one–in Doha–did not happen because the Hungarian withdrew). In the Miami quarters, Rublev could run into fellow Russian Aslan Karatsev–with whom Rublev won the Doha doubles title. One week later in Dubai, Karatsev ended his countryman’s 23-match winning streak at the 500 level.At the bottom of the bracket, Tsitsipas may be in line for a third-round encounter with Kei Nishikori and a quarterfinal showdown against Denis Shapovalov.

Quarterfinal picks: Felix Auger-Aliassime over Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner over Taylor Fritz, Andrey Rublev over Aslan Karatsev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas over Ugo Humbert

Semifinals: Auger-Aliassime over Sinner and Rublev over Tsitsipas

Final: Rublev over Auger-Aliassime

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