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Ricky’s Tennis Picks • and preview for the Miami Open: Opportunities abound with Big 3 sidelined

Felix Auger-Aliassime reached the 2019 Miami Open semifinals. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

By Ricky Dimon

We just saw a surprise champion emerge in the desert, as Taylor Fritz triumphed in Indian Wells. Only a few days later, the tour is taking its talents to South Beach and the results could be just as crazy.

After all, no members of the Big 3 are present for the Miami Open. Novak Djokovic is unable to enter the United States as an unvaccinated foreigner, Rafael Nadal withdrew two weeks ago citing rest in advance of the clay-court swing (and now he is hurt, anyway), and Roger Federer remains sidelined for the longer term. With top three seeds Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, and Stefanos Tsitsipas not in great form, the door is completely wide open.

Tsitsipas’ section of the draw is especially rough. The fourth-ranked Greek could face Alex de Minaur in the third round, Miami semifinalist Carlos Alcaraz in the last 16, and Rotterdam champion Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarterfinals. Like Tsitsipas, Auger-Aliassime is well-rested after losing early in Indian Wells and the Canadian was a Miami semifinalist as an 18-year-old in 2019.

Medvedev and Tsitsipas are on a collision course for the semis at the tournament where their rivalry began in 2018, but there is a good chance neither one advances that far. Andy Murray is likely first up for Medvedev, Roberto Bautista Agut almost always plays well in Miami, and Hubert Hurkacz is the defending champion. Thus the top-seeded Russian has plenty of roadblocks in his quarter.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain reached the Indian Wells Tennis semifinals. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

In the bottom half of the draw, big servers like Reilly Opelka, John Isner, and Nick Kyrgios often thrive in Miami conditions and they will be looking to capitalize if top seeds like Zverev, Andrey Rublev, and Matteo Berrettini stumbled. Rublev vs. Kyrgios is a potential mouth-watering second-round matchup.

Quarterfinal predictions: Roberto Bautista Agut over Hubert Hurkacz, Felix Auger-Aliassime over Carlos Alcaraz, Reilly Opelka over Jannik Sinner, and Cameron Norrie over Grigor Dimitrov

Semifinals: Auger-Aliassime over Bautista Agut and Opelka over Norrie

Final: Auger-Aliassime over Opelka

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