The performance should not be overlooked. If Aslan Karatsev was still a virtual unknown in 2020, beating him 6-3, 6-0 in 2021 is almost a feat. Sebastian Korda did just that in the previous round, ending the Russian's 15-match winning streak against players ranked beyond the TOP 5 - the world No. 27 only failed to beat Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem this year. The young American is only ranked 87th, but it's a safe bet that he'll climb quickly if he continues to play with such confidence and authority (3 points lost behind his first ball and 2 break points saved out of 2 conceded), although it's worth noting that Karatsev totally dropped in the second set. Thanks to a powerful serve and an aggressive forehand, Petr's son had already inflicted exactly the same score on Radu Albot in the first round, before knocking off the 17th ranked player in the world, Fabio Fognini, in three sets. These results confirm his progress since the beginning of the season (final at the ATP 250 in Delray Beach and title at the Challenger in Quimper). Can he continue his momentum and topple Diego Schwartzman, the logical favorite according to the bookmakers? When you look at the odds, you have to say yes, even if it will be very difficult. Everything will depend on which opponent he will face. The one who was hesitant and too soft in the Australian Open (third round) and in Acapulco (first round) or the one who, with his imperious pace at the back of the court, swept aside and even crushed Adrian Mannarino in the round of 16 in Miami (6-1, 6-4, with 81% success behind his first serve and no break point conceded)? The match promises to be a tough one, especially since both players are playing for their first quarter-final in the Florida Masters 1000. Julien Varlet: Sebastian Korda is really getting better and better. But I don't see him taking more than a set against Diego Schwartzman. The American still lacks a little punch, a big shot. And the Argentine is a very high level player, who doesn't let his opponent breathe much. I have the impression that Schwartzman is coming back well in Miami. With his newfound sensations, he's basically still above Korda. A win in three sets could be interesting.
Robert Bautista-Agut vs John Isner
Here's a match that looks good! Two former members of the TOP 10 face each other, but also two athletes often very comfortable on hard court, in two relatively opposite styles. John Isner is the most successful player in Miami: a title in 2018 - his only one in a Masters 1000 - and a final in 2019. As much to say that the American giant (2m08) feels good in Florida, a fortiori in the United States where he won 13 of his 15 trophies. He also has 10 outdoor hard court titles. Roberto Bautista-Agut also happens to be particularly successful in these conditions: 9 tournaments won, 6 on outdoor hard court, and 4 more finals in this environment, including one in a Masters 1000 (Shanghai 2016). What makes the balance in favor of the Spaniard, according to the bookmakers, is the form of the moment. And it is true that the player from the Valencia region has shown much more than his opponent since the beginning of the year: while the American played only 4 matches (2V/2D) before starting Miami, "RBA" played 2 finals, in Montpellier (indoor hard) and Doha (outdoor hard), with very convincing victories against Bublik and Rublev, as well as a success against a certain Reilly Opelka, a big guy of 2m11. In addition to his fiery legs and counter-playing skills, Bautista also has a very good eye, which allows him to lead in his confrontations with the big servers such as Opelka, but also Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson. He has already beaten John Isner (Auckland 2016), but it is the taller of the two (by size) who is ahead with 3 wins and only one loss. Note that their last opposition took place in Miami in 2019 and that the American had won in two decisive games. A scenario that could be repeated - Isner won in the same way in the previous round against Felix Auger-Aliassime, without conceding a single break point -, but perhaps in the other direction, Roberto Bautista-Agut having this time the means and physical freshness to turn the tiebreaks and the match in his favor. Julien Varlet: This year in Miami, it seems that the surface is quite slow. That's already an element in favor of Roberto Bautista-Agut. As soon as the exchange starts, the Spaniard will have a clear advantage over the American. The latter can almost only rely on his serve to make big differences. Also, the heat and humidity could affect John Isner much more than his opponent. The longer the match goes on, the better Bautista's chances of winning. Especially since the Spaniard knows how to foil his opponent. Finally, even though John Isner beat Felix Auger-Aliassime in the previous round, the Canadian made a lot of unforced errors that the Spaniard will not make.
Taylor Fritz vs Alexander Bublik
It's a very open match. First of all because the two players are quite close in ranking and in terms of level of play. Taylor Fritz is ranked 32nd, while Alexander Bublik is ranked #44, which is perhaps why the former is a slight favorite. Both of them have had a good start to the season. The American, who is comfortable on hard court (three finals, including an ATP 500 final in Acapulco last year), reached the semifinals in Doha, dominating Lorenzo Sonego, David Goffin and Denis Shapovalov, and only losing to eventual winner Nikoloz Basilashvili. It is also worth remembering that in the third round of the Australian Open, he pushed Novak Djokovic into a fifth set, even though that was the day the Serbian started to suffer from abdominal pain. The Kazakh has already played two finals this year, in Antalya (outdoor hard) and Singapore (indoor hard). It is known that Bublik is capable of the best and the worst. In 2021, he shows more fighting spirit than discouragement. Further proof in the round of 16, where after being down by a break in each set against James Duckworth, he made the effort to stay focused, relying in particular on his serve (10 aces, 74% of points won behind his first, 57% behind his second) to reverse the trend in two sets (6-4, 6-4). On the other hand, even though Fritz also served well (7 aces and 74% behind his first) and hit his forehand hard against Cameron Norrie, his success (6-4, 3-6, 6-1) was a bit fortunate, as the Briton lost his way in the third set. Alexander Bublik knows how to do more things on a court than Taylor Fritz. Moreover, he has already beaten him twice, each time on outdoor hard court (Chengdu 2019 and Adelaide 2020). So there is a good shot to play with Bublik. He has the keys in hand, it is up to him not to flinch when the game starts to get tense. Julien Varlet: I see a victory for Alexander Bublik as a priority. He can do a lot more with a tennis ball. And his range of strokes is enough to disturb Taylor Fritz, who likes to play at a fast pace. On the contrary, the Kazakh can vary, slice, go to the net and change the pace and height. His extravagance may upset the American. And Bublik has an excellent serve. After that, with the latter, you never know what kind of mood he's going to be in: will he fight throughout the match or will he let go like he did in Rotterdam? Then you can also bet on a match in 3 rounds without winner, if the odds are interesting. This is a less risky and realistic option.
Andrey Rublev vs Marin Cilic
Sometimes there are signs that you can't go wrong. When you look back at previous encounters between the two players, a light shines in your mind. After losing in 2015 in Geneva (clay), Andrey Rublev dominated Marin Cilic twice, in Miami (hard outdoor) and in Moscow (hard indoor), each time in 2019. Results that seem to go hand in hand with the direction of history. Because if the Croatian, a former Grand Slam winner (US Open 2014), has not played a final for almost 3 years (Queen's 2018) and has only beaten a TOP 10 since the beginning of 2019, the 23-year-old Russian has totally exploded in the same period of time, gleaning a whopping 7 titles and reaching 3 quarterfinals in Major since a year and a half. Today, the older of the two is only ranked 45th while the younger is now ranked 8th in the world. It's true, Cilic's loose style can surprise anyone on a day with it. But Rublev's power and serenity seem to be superior at the moment. Hence a clear advantage according to the bookmakers (85% chance of victory), which still seems too big a gap. Nevertheless, we can understand the strong tendency of the bookmakers to trust Andrey Rublev so much, considering the two tennis lessons given by the Russian during his first two matches in Miami, against Tennys Sandgren (6-1, 6-2) and Marton Fucsovics (6-2, 6-1), two matches during which he lost only 8 points in total behind his first service point, conceding only one break point, finally saved. On the other hand, Marin Cilic had a tough time in his first two matches against Federico Coria (6-3, 2-6, 6-4) and Cristian Garin (3-6, 7-5, 7-6), but he was able to reassure himself against Lorenzo Musetti (6-4, 6-4). Quarter-finalist in Miami in 2013, the Croatian will have to do even better to dominate Rublev, even if it means doing violence. But frankly, there is reason to doubt the monster that the Muscovite has become. Julien Varlet: I was expecting Lorenzo Musetti to win in the previous round against Marin Cilic, but the young Italian didn't play a good match. All that to say that I don't see the Croatian winning. The dynamics of the moment, and it's been a long time, are clearly in favor of Andrey Rublev. He is more powerful and plays faster. Cilic has almost an obsolete style of play, when you compare him with the Russian. He would have to play the perfect match, taking the balls early and getting to the net to disrupt Rublev. But can he do that right now? I don't think so. Moreover, it's been a while since he played 4 matches in a row, so he might suffer a little bit in terms of recovery. Rublev has an incredible quality of hitting at the moment, I can see him winning in two sets, that's the bet to aim for as Rublev's odds are too low in my eyes.
Milos Raonic vs Hubert Hurkacz
A duel between two strong men, who send hard material on serve. The first match will probably depend a little more on the level of play of Milos Raonic. We have the feeling that the Canadian has the cards in hand. If he serves as well as ever and hits his big shots without overplaying, Hubert Hurkacz will be in big trouble. It is true that the odds of the Pole, who starts as an outsider, are interesting. But finally, apart from his title in Delray Beach at the beginning of the year, without dominating a single TOP 100, the 37th in the world has not been very prominent this season. His win over Shapovalov was good for him, but he was able to count on a Canadian who was as inconsistent as ever. On the other side of the draw, Raonic first crushed Jordan Thompson, before doing the job against Humbert. He has the ability to concentrate in hot moments (3 break points saved out of 3 conceded). Always very comfortable on hard court - 3 titles and 8 more finals including 3 in Masters 1000 (Canada 2013, Indian Wells 2016 and Cincinnati 2020) -, the Canadian giant imposes with his power, but also his accuracy. The logic should be respected and Raonic could go very far in the tournament, if he continues to play like this. Julien Varlet: Both players were very solid yesterday. Hubert Hurkacz played a good match, and he dominated Denis Shapovalov. Milos Raonic was able to shut down Ugo Humbert. We can already start on a match with a number of games, because it shouldn't be 6-2, 6-2. I'm still impressed with the Canadian. Despite his clumsy appearance, he gave the young Frenchman almost no chance. When he's not injured, Raonic is still one of the best. To beat him, the Pole will have to win all his service games and know how to return. Not easy. Milos Raonic has my preference but his odds are too low for me to play this match.
Daniil Medvedev vs Frances Tiafoe
5th confrontation between the two players. So far, Tiafoe has only beaten Medvedev in 2015 at the Nice clay court tournament. Then since 2019, Medvedev has strung together 3 wins dropping only one set. The last one was in September 2020. A quick win in 3 sets from Medvedev at the Australian Open including a 6-0 in the last set. The Russian has had a great start to the season with a final at the Australian Open and a title in Marseille, dropping only one set. For his first match in the competition, he easily disposed of Lu. In contrast, Medvedev struggled in the previous round against Popyrin. Physically struggling to finish the match with stiff legs full of cramps. Medvedev, who had a lot of trouble with his forehand and a lot of unforced errors, had to go to the physio several times to manipulate a sore thigh or whistling adductors. Less mobile in the third set, he was clearly on the edge. He was able to shorten the exchanges and push Popyrin to the fault in order to finish this match as well as possible. The question of recovery will be important against an opponent who is having a serious tournament. Tiafoe has had two good wins, especially on the mental side. In the previous round, against Evans, always very complicated to play and against Lajovic. This match could be more competitive than expected. Indeed, the physical condition of the Russian suggests that the weather conditions play strongly on his body. Tiafoe is used to these conditions and we feel him much more comfortable. Moreover playing at home, the American could be transcended and will want to make a big game. He knows that, even if Medvedev is widely favored and that tennis-wise, the Russian is more complete, if there is a moment when Tiafoe can beat him, it is now in his conditions. So beware, especially since the American likes the smell of these big matches. There are several encounters like Djokovic at the last AO, Zverev at the 2019 US Open or Del Potro in Delray Beach in 2018.
Lorenzo Sonego vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
First confrontation between the two players. Tsitsipas will logically start in the lead in this match. Indeed, the Greek is having a serious tournament for the moment with victories against Dzumhur in 2 sets, then in 3 sets against Nishikori who physically didn't last on the 3rd. In this last match, he was extremely efficient on serve with 12 aces, 69% first serve and 89% points behind it, which shows that he is hard to beat when he is sharp like that. He only gave up one break and played very offensively, varying his game a lot to get 10 break points in the match. Before that, his season started well with a final in Acapulco against Zverev, a semifinal in Rotterdam against Rublev and another semifinal at the Australian Open against Medvedev after a good run. Tsitsipas dominated Nadal in a match that lasted more than 4 hours! For his opponent of the day, the beginning of the season is more mixed. He finished the year 2020 with a very impressive level of play that took him to the final in Vienna. During this tournament, Sonego defeated Lajovic, Hurkacz, Evans and Djokovic before losing to the formidable Rublev. In 2021, he has a little more trouble. Early eliminations in Melbourne and the Australian Open before a quarter-final in Marseille against Goffin, dominating Gaston and the revelation Korda. This week, he played some serious matches against opponents who were well within his reach. In two sets against Fratangelo and Galan Riveros, he will now have to face another calibre. Tsitsipas should by his power in the game overtake the Italian. In addition, his quality of service makes him a very difficult player to maneuver on his sets. The Italian could more than once go at fault and not keep up with the pace imposed by the Greek. Even if Sonego has progressed on hard court for a year now, Tsitsipas should win and why not in two sets.
Jannik Sinner vs Emil Ruusuvuori
Sinner-Ruusuvori, the youth ahead! Both players have reached their best ranking this week. The least we can say is that they confirm the hopes placed on them. If Ruusuvori had to play 3 matches in 3 sets (against Alcaraz, Zverev and Ymer) to reach the last 16, Jannik Sinner had one match less to play thanks to his seeded status. He performed especially well against the Russian Karen Khachanov, as he was badly beaten during almost two long sets, he showed a huge strength of character to overcome the 22nd world player (4-6, 7-6, 6-4. In the game, obviously advantage to the Italian Jannik Sinner, who, at only 19 years old, proved that he was not the man of a tournament but that he could be a serious contender for the world top 10 or even better in a few years. As for Ruusuvuori, he is in the process of turning a corner in his game with his coach who is none other than Federico Ricci, Nieminen's former coach. In terms of freshness, the Italian also has an advantage as he has spent much less time on court than the Finn (3:56 vs. 6:37). This will be a huge test for Ruusuvuori, who has already beaten Alexander Zverev in the 2nd round, and will be expected to take on the Italian. The odds seem pretty justified.
Editor's Opinion ⭐️⭐️⭐️--- ⭐️⭐️ Victory Bautista ✅ / Bublik 1 set✅ / Victory Sinner✅ / Victory Tsitsipas✅ ⭐️ Korda 1 set✅ / Victory Bublik✅ / Rublev 2-0 ✅/ Tiafoe 1 set❌
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