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Ricky’s Tennis picks for Friday at the Miami Open, including Rublev vs. Kyrgios

Andrey Rublev of Russia will face Nick Kyrgios in Miami. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

By Ricky Dimon

Fellow Aussies and doubles partners Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis will be back in action at the Miami Masters on Friday. They have respective second-round contests on their hands against Andrey Rublev and Diego Schwartzman.

Here are my previews and picks for two of the best matchups on Friday.

(5) Andrey Rublev vs. (WC) Nick Kyrgios

Rublev and Kyrgios will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they collide in round two of the Miami Open on Friday. They have split their two previous encounters; Kyrgios prevailed 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 on the indoor hard courts of Moscow in 2018 before Rublev got the job done 7-6(5), 7-6(5), 6-3 at the 2019 U.S. Open.

If Kyrgios continues to be motivated, this should be the best matchup of the entire first round. The 26-year-old Aussie is coming off a quarterfinal performance in Indian Wells (lost to Rafael Nadal in three sets) and he took care of Adrian Mannarino 7-6(3), 6-3 on Wednesday night. One problem for Kyrgios is a potential knee issue and an even bigger problem is Rublev. The world No. 7 has once again been one of the best players on tour this season, with an 18-3 record that includes back-to-back titles in Marseille and Dubai. Kyrgios can win this if he serves extremely well, but it’s tough to pick against Rublev right now.

Pick: Rublev in 3

Thanasi Kokkinakis beat Richard Gasquet in his Miami Open opener. Photo credit: EPA

(13) Diego Schwartzman vs. (Q) Thanasi Kokkinakis

Kokkinakis is finally armed with a clean bill of health and as a result he is in resurgent form this season. The 25-year-old Aussie is back in the top 100 (97th) thanks in part to a semifinal showing and a title at back-to-back ATP 250s in Adelaide. His summer Down Under also included a Grand Slam triumph with Kyrgios in doubles at the Australian Open. Kokkinakis successfully qualified in Indian Wells, did the same in Miami, and defeated Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-2 in round one.

Up next is a first-ever meeting with Schwartzman, who has won nine matches on clay this year but otherwise doesn’t have much confidence. Since the season-opening ATP Cup, the 15th-ranked Argentine’s best wins have come against Lorenzo Sonego and Filip Krajinovic–hardly spectacular results. In relatively fast and high-bouncing conditions on the Miami hard courts, this is a great opportunity for Kokkinakis to pull off an upset and keep the momentum going.

Pick: Kokkinakis in 3

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