Miami Open Favourites: Who’s in line to win the first Masters of 2021?
The 2021 Miami Open is one of the most wide open Masters 1000 draws of the last 15 years. Without the Big 3, who will capitalize on the opportunity?
The 2021 version of the Miami Open has a wide open feel to it. For the first time since 2004, a Masters 1000 event will be played without a single member of the ATP’s Big 3 – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic – in the main draw. So what does that mean for the rest of the field, and which players are poised to capitalize on the situation?
They won't play Miami. Berrettini is the latest one. https://t.co/6nOHioS70V
— Tennis Majors (@Tennis_Majors) March 21, 2021
Let’s have a look at the top favourites on the ATP side, as well as a few exciting players to watch…
Rank: No.2 / Seeded first
Current form: Medvedev last played in Marseille where he claimed his tenth career title. The Russian is 14-2 on the season.
What he’s playing for: Medvedev wants to create some cushion on his lead in the rankings over Rafael Nadal before the clay-court season starts. And he wants to continue to assert himself as a top force on hard courts.
His draw: Medvedev will face either Sam Querrey or Yen-Hsun Lu in the second round, and he could potentially face Reilly Opelka in the third round. If the seeds hold he’d face Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarters and Alexander Zverev in the semis.
Rank: No.5 / Seeded second
Current form: Tsitsipas reached the final in Acapulco, where he played extremely well but couldn’t get past Alexander Zverev in the finals.
What he’s playing for: Tsitsipas was disappointed to not come away with a title in Acapulco, and he’d like nothing more than to bounce back with a good performance in the first Masters 1000 event of 2021. He has reached two Masters 1000 finals (Madrid, 2019, Canada, 2018 in his career).
His draw: The Greek will face either Kevin Anderson or Thiago Monteiro in the second round (after his bye) and could face Kei Nishikori in the third round. If the seeds hold he’d face Denis Shapovalov in the quarters and Andrey Rublev in the semis.
Rank: No.7 / Seeded fourth
Current form: Rublev had his 23-match winning streak at ATP 500 events snapped in the Dubai semi-finals by Aslan Karatsev.
What he’s playing for: Rublev is making a beeline for a top five ranking and he’ll continue his quest in Miami, hoping to take advantage of a diluted field to break through and get past the quarter-finals of a Masters 1000 for the first time.
His draw: Rublev is in the lower half of the draw and would face Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals if the seeds hold. He could face his good friend Marton Fucsovics in the third round, unsurprisingly.
Rank: No.7 / Seeded third
Current form: Zverev comes to Miami in great form, having won his 14th title over the weekend in Acapulco with a very impressive victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas. He has now won titles in each of the last six seasons, and is one of just four players with a streak that long (Also, Djokovic, Nadal, Thiem).
What he’s playing for: Zverev can earn some big points in Miami as he has not won a match in Florida since reaching the final in 2018.
His draw: Zverev will face either Carlos Alcaraz or Emil Ruusuvuori in the second round. He’s the favorite to come through his quarter, and would face Medvedev if the seeds hold in the top half.
Rank: No.11 / Seeded sixth
Current form: He’s just 6-5 on he season, but Shapovalov appeared to hit his stride in Dubai on his way to a semi-final performance.
What he’s playing for: The Canadian will be looking for a foll0w-through on his performance in Dubai. He’s played well at the Masters 1000 events of lately, reaching the Paris final in 2019 and the semi-finals last year at Rome. He also reached the semis on his last appearance at Miami, before losing to Roger Federer.
His draw: Shapovalov has a manageable draw that could see him face Hubert Hurkacz in the round of 16. But he’ll have to be careful against either Soonwoo Kwon over Ilya Ivashka in his second-round match (after bye).
Rank: No.27/ Seeded 17
Current form: Aslan Karatsev has made a habit out of winning over the last year. The Russian is one of the biggest stories on the ATP tour this season, and is 12-2 thus far in 2021 (he entered the season with a 3-10 lifetime record).
What he’s playing for: Karatsev is fresh off the Dubai title and he’s riding the momentum after reaching the semi-finals at the Australian Open and dominating Dubai last week.
His draw: Karatsev will open with either Mikhail Kukushkin or British wild card Jack Draper in his first ever appearance in a Masters 1000 main draw. He could face Fabio Fognini in the round of 16 and Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals if the seeds hold.
Rank: No.12 / Seeded seventh
Current form: Bautista played a brilliant tournament in Doha, defeating Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev en route to the final, before bowing out to Jannik Sinner in third-round action in Dubai.
What he’s playing for: Like so many experienced veterans in the draw, the Spaniard is likely champing at the bit to play a Masters 1000 without the Big 3 and Dominic Thiem in attendance.
His draw: Not easy. He’ll face either Lloyd Harris or Andy Murray in the second round after his bye. After that it could be Jan-Lennard Struff in the third round. If seeds hold Bautista Agut would face Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals, but he does own a 2-0 career record against the Russian.
Other players we’ll be watching
Rank: No.52 / unseeded
Current form: Lloyd Harris had the most positive week of his career in Dubai, reaching the final after wins over Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Denis Shapovalov.
What he’s playing for: Harris wants to ride the momentum and prove that his performance in Dubai wasn’t a fluke.
His draw: He’ll face Andy Murray in the first round in a popcorn matchup. If he wins, Roberto Bautista will be next.
Rank: No.95 / Unseeded
Current form: Musetti is proving at a very y0ung age that he can be an impactful player on any surface. He reached the semi-final last week in Acapulco from qualifying.
What he’s playing for: Musetti already won a few rounds at a Masters 1000 at Rome last year, but the Italian wants to do the same (at least) at Miami in order to get his ranking up so he can enter some more events this spring on his favorite surface without having to qualify.
His draw: He’ll open with Michael Mmoh in the first round and will face Benoit Paire in the second round if he wins. Not a bad draw at all.
Rank: No.39 / Seeded 28
Current form: It finally feels like Nishikori is putting his injuries behind him and rounding into form. He reached the quarter-finals at Dubai last week.
What he’s playing for: Nishikori is looking to build his confidence for the second half of the season and so far he’s done just that in 2021.
His draw: Nishikori could face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round. If he does, it will be an important match for him. He has not earned a top 5 win since 2018.
Rank: No.31 / Seeded 21st
Current form: Sinner is coming off of back-to-back quarter-finals in Marseille and Dubai.
What he’s playing for: As crazy as it sounds, this will be Sinner’s first appearance in a Masters 1000 hard court main draw.
His draw: It’s tricky. The 19-year-old will face either Hugo Gaston or Dominik Koepfer in the second round. After that it could be Karen Khachanov in the third round.