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Ricky’s Tennis picks for Monday in Miami: Tsitsipas vs. de Minaur and Fritz vs. Paul

Alex De Minaur meets Stefanos Tsitsipas in Miami. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

By Ricky Dimon

There will be no secrets involved in at least two of the third-round matchups on Monday at the Miami Masters. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex de Minaur have already faced each other 10 times, while Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul are best friends on tour.

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

(3) Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. (25) Alex de Minaur

Tsitsipas and de Minaur will be squaring off for the 11th time in their careers when they meet again in round three of the Miami Open on Monday. The head-to-head series is being absolutely dominated by Tsitsipas, who has won all seven of their main-tour encounters. De Minaur at least managed to beat the Greek in qualifying at the 2017 Surbiton Challenger, but he has lost all nine of their other matches. They most recently collided last month on the indoor hard courts of Rotterdam, where Tsitsipas cruised 6-4, 6-4.

There is, however, some good news for de Minaur. The 28th-ranked Australian improved to 12-5 this season with a 6-2, 6-3 rout of compatriot Jordan Thompson on Saturday and he is coming off a fourth-round appearance in Indian Wells, where he pushed eventual champion Taylor Fritz to a third-set tiebreaker. Tsitsipas has not played well since he defeated de Minaur in Rotterdam. The world No. 5 got blown out by Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final of that tournament and then lost to Roman Safiullin in Marseille, to Cameron Norrie in Acapulco, and to Jenson Brooksby in Indian Wells. In slow Miami conditions, Tsitsipas will struggle to get the ball past de Minaur’s defense–making for another reason why an upset is well within the realm of possibility.

Pick: De Minaur in 3

Taylor Fritz takes on good friend Tommy Paul. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

(11) Taylor Fritz vs. Tommy Paul

Will Fritz’s best friend on tour be the one to end his hot streak? It’s possible, because next up for the Indian Wells champion is none other than Paul. They have faced each other five times overall, with Paul leading the head-to-head series 3-2. Their two recent encounters last fall (their only two at the ATP level) were split; Fritz won 7-6(3), 6-4 in St. Petersburg before Paul prevailed 6-4, 6-4 in Stockholm.

With Paul also in great form, this one could obviously go either way. The world No. 37 upset Alexander Zverev en route to the Indian Wells third round (lost to de Minaur) and so far in Miami he has ousted Benjamin Bonzi and Karen Khachanov–the latter in a third-set tiebreaker. Both Americans are incredibly solid off both wings from the baseline, but the difference could be that Fritz will undoubtedly win a lot more free points on serve. Plus, the confidence from an eight-match winning streak cannot be discounted.

Pick: Fritz in 3

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