Five Must-See First Rounds In Miami
Seeds await in the second round at the Miami Open presented by Itau
With the Top 32 seeds receiving a bye, the focus is on a host of first-round clashes at the Miami Open presented by Itau.
Taylor Fritz vs. Pierre-Hugues Herbert
A string of recent deep runs on U.S. hard courts has #NextGenATP American Taylor Fritz primed for his third appearance at the Miami Open presented by Itau. The 20-year-old, back up to No. 71 in the ATP Rankings, fell in a nail-biting three-setter last week to Borna Coric in the fourth round in Indian Wells, having saved match point against good friend Reilly Opelka before registering wins over #NextGenATP Russian Andrey Rublev and Fernando Verdasco. He reached the quarter-finals in Delray Beach (l. to Shapovalov) and has compiled a 14-3 record on the ATP Challenger Tour this season. This will be his first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting with World No. 81 Pierre-Hugues Herbert. The 27-year-old Frenchman opened his season with a quarter-final appearance at the Tata Open Maharashtra in India and like Fritz, he also reached the fourth round in Indian Wells last week (l. to. Kohlschreiber). Second seed Marin Cilic will face the winner in round two.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Daniil Medvedev
Dominic Thiem needed three sets to win the battle of the single-handed backhands when he met #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round in Indian Wells leading in. Now Tsitsipas, No. 70 in the ATP Rankings, takes on 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Daniil Medvedev for the first time in the pair’s Miami debut. The 19-year-old Greek reached the quarter-finals in Doha to open his season (l. to Thiem). Earlier this month, he beat No. 6 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber en route to the quarter-finals in Dubai. Medvedev, the World No. 52, started the season emphatically, as he won seven matches in a row to land his first ATP World Tour title in Sydney (d. De Minaur) as a 21-year-old qualifier. He also won through qualifying before reaching the quarter-finals in Rotterdam. The winner will face No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev.
Denis Shapovalov vs. Viktor Troicki
Another #NextGenATP player making his Miami debut will be 18-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The World No. 46 has a 9-7 start to the season with his best result being a semi-final run at the Delray Beach Open (l. to eventual champion Tiafoe). Three of his defeats this season have come against Top 15 opponents. Troicki, No. 68 in the ATP Rankings, won the pair’s only prior FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter in Shanghai last year in three sets. The Serbian won his sixth straight victory in a five-set match at the Australian Open to start his year (d. Bolt, l. to Kyrgios in 2R). He subsequently reached the quarter-finals in Sofia. The winner will face No. 24 seed Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia in the second round.
Jared Donaldson vs. Marcos Baghdatis
After his maiden ATP World Tour semi-final appearance on hard court in Acapulco earlier this month, 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Jared Donaldson arrived in Indian Wells at a career high of No. 48 in the ATP Rankings (l. to Bautista Agut in 2R). The 21-year-old American won through qualifying in each of the past two years to reach the Miami main draw. Last year he went on to reach the fourth round before he fell to countryman Jack Sock. He has never faced experienced Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, a former No. 8 in the ATP Rankings. The 32-year-old Baghdatis has surged back into the Top 100 (No. 82) after winning five straight matches as a qualifier before handing Milos Raonic a walkover in the fourth round in Indian Wells. Last month he reached the quarter-finals in Sofia (l. to Kovalik). No. 25 seed Feliciano Lopez awaits the winner.
Ivo Karlovic vs. Vasek Pospisil
One thing is for certain when 39-year-old Ivo Karlovic and 27-year-old Vasek Pospisil square off in the opening round in Miami – aces will be plentiful from both. Canadian World No. 77 Pospisil leads the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head ledger 3-1, winning their past three encounters on hard courts in straight sets. Karlovic, the veteran Croatian, won his 350th ATP World Tour main draw match (d. Donaldson) at the New York Open where he reached his first quarter-final of the season (l. to Querrey). In the second round of this year’s Australian Open, he hit 53 aces to beat Yuichi Sugita 12-10 in the fifth before going on to hit another 52 aces in a five-set third-round defeat to Andreas Seppi. Both Karlovic (l. to Marterer) and Pospisil (qualified, l. to Auger Aliassime) fell in the opening round in Indian Wells. A victory will book a second-round meeting with #NextGenATP Russian 27th seed Rublev.