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Ricky’s 10sBalls/ Tennis picks for Thursday in Miami: Medvedev vs. Hurkacz and Alcaraz vs. Kecmanovic

Daniil Medvedev faces defending champion Hubert Hurkacz in Miami. Photo credit: EPA

By Ricky Dimon

An intriguing Miami quarterfinal lineup on Thursday is highlighted by Daniil Medvedev, who can clinch a return to the No. 1 ranking. Medvedev meets defending champ Hubert Hurkacz, while Carlos Alcaraz faces Miomir Kecmanovic.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(1) Daniil Medvedev vs. (8) Hubert Hurkacz

If the three previous encounters between Medvedev and Hurkacz are anything to go by, their showdown in the Miami Open quarterfinals should be a fun one. Final sets have been required on every occasion; Hurkacz pulled off a 2-6, 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 upset at Wimbledon last summer before Medvedev prevailed 2-6, 7-6(6), 7-6(5) at the Toronto Masters and 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 at the Nitto ATP Finals.

There is no reason to think anything will be different this time around. Hurkacz is the defending champion and he has extended his Miami winning streak to nine matches with victories over Arthur Rinderknech, Aslan Karatsev, and Lloyd Harris–dropping one set to Karatsev in the process. Following a brief post-Australian Open slump, Medvedev seems to be rounding back into form with straight-set defeats of Andy Murray, Pedro Martinez, and Jenson Brooksby. The 26-year-old has extra motivation in the form of regaining the No. 1 ranking from Novak Djokovic, which he will accomplish next week if he beats Hurkacz. That along with slow conditions to help Medvedev play his way into a ton of baseline rallies should allow the favorite to get the best of another competitive contest.

Pick: Medvedev in 3

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain reacts against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during a fourth round match of the Miami Open tennis tournament at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, USA, 29 March 2022. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

(14) Carlos Alcaraz vs. Miomir Kecmanovic

Alcaraz vs. Kecmanovic may not be as competitive given the absolutely incredible level that the 18-year-old is displaying right now, but if nothing else this should be a clinic in ball-striking from both sides of the court. Kecmanovic is also one of the hottest players on tour to begin this season, with a fourth-round run at the Australian Open, a quarterfinal finish in Indian Wells, and now another quarterfinal appearance in Miami. The 22-year-old avenged his three-set loss in the desert to eventual champion Taylor Fritz by upsetting the American 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Tuesday night.

As well as Kecmanovic is playing, nobody–perhaps not even Medvedev–is on par with Alcaraz this fortnight. The Spaniard has built on his Indian Wells semifinal performance with straight-set wins over Marton Fucsovics, Marin Cilic, and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Despite playing well, himself, Tsitsipas could not take a set or even force a tiebreaker in their fourth-round battle. Expect an extremely high-quality affair, but a clear edge goes to Alcaraz.

Pick: Alcaraz in 2

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