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Ricky’s Tennis picks for Day 1 of the Miami Open, including Kyrgios vs. Mannarino

Nick Kyrgios meets Adrian Mannarino in Miami. EPA-EFE/DAVE HUNT

By Ricky Dimon

The 2022 Miami Open will get underway on Wednesday, when Nick Kyrgios is headlining the night session against Adrian Mannarino. Fernando Verdasco qualified for the main draw to set up a showdown with Borna Coric.

Here are my picks for two of the best matchups.

(WC) Nick Kyrgios vs. Adrian Mannarino

It’s hard to know when, where, or why Kyrgios becomes motivated to turn in some positive results on the tennis court, but that appears to be the case at the moment. A surprising doubles title at the Australian Open with Thanasi Kokkinakis may account for it in part, plus he just generally likes playing in the United States. The 26-year-old played well at the Indian Wells Masters, advancing to the quarterfinals before losing to Rafael Nadal in a high-quality three-setter.

Kyrgios hopes to wrap up his Sunshine Double in style at the Miami Open, where he will kick off his campaign against Mannarino on Wednesday. This marks their first-ever meeting, and the veteran Frenchman also heads into it in decent form. He has already reached three quarterfinals in 2022 to go along with a fourth-round effort at the Australian Open (lost to Nadal after battling through one of the most memorable tiebreakers ever). However, the world No. 61 lost right away in both Acapulco (to Taylor Fritz) and Indian Wells (to Brandon Nakashima) so Kyrgios could have the edge in this one. Of course, it all comes down to the Aussie’s ever-unpredictable motivation level.

Pick: Kyrgios in 2

Fernando Verdasco takes on Borna Coric at the Miami Open tennis tournament in Miami Gardens, Florida. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

(PR) Borna Coric vs. (Q) Fernando Verdasco

Coric is playing just his second tournament of the year–and second in more than a year. The 25-year-old Croat missed almost all of 2021 because of a shoulder injury before finally returning this month in Indian Wells. Coric accounted himself well enough in his first appearance back, losing to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-7(5), 0-6, 7-5 after serving for the match in the third set.

Up next for the world No. 166 is a third career contest against Verdasco. They have split their two previous encounters; Coric prevailed 6-4, 6-4 at the 2015 Paris Masters and Verdasco got the job done 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 at the same event four years later. Verdasco has also played sparingly of late, but he is still performing well enough at 38 years old. The 123rd-ranked Spaniard has already won 15 matches across all levels this season, including two in Miami qualifying over Joao Sousa and Hugo Grenier. In what should be a competitive affair, current match toughness will likely be the difference late–just as it was in Coric’s loss to Davidovich Fokina.

Pick: Verdasco in 3

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