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Five Things To Watch Out For In The Miami Open Men’s Draw

With a pay cheque of $1,354,010 at stake for the winner, here is the storylines to follow this year in Miami.

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Novak Djokovic (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

2019 marks the dawn of a new era for the 35th edition of the Miami Open.

 

From this year, the event will be hosted at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens after previously being held in Key Biscayne for 21 years. The venue is known best as the home to NFL team Miami Dolphins and will host the prestigious Super Bowl in 2020. Following its development into a tennis venue, a temporary 14,000 capacity premier court has been built within the stadium. There are also 27 further courts built around it.

The men’s draw for the tournament took place on Monday with plenty is interest surrounding the top names in the sport. Here are five things to following throughout the Masters 1000 tournament.

Novak’s shot at history

Novak Djokovic is the most successful player in the history of the tournament alongside Andre Agassi with six titles each. This year he will be bidding to become the most decorated male player in the history of the Miami Open with a seventh title.

The world No.1 will be keen to make up for a disappointing run in Indian Wells, where he was stunned in the third round by Philipp Kohlschreiber. Making it the first time he has failed to reach at least the quarter-finals of an event since the Canadian Open in August.

“I’m going to have Marian (Vajda), my coach, joining us in Miami.” Djokovic told reporters last week. “There is plenty of time until my first singles match there. Things to work on, without a doubt. I’m not at my highest level. I know that. But I’m slowly building, and hopefully I’ll be able to peak in Miami.”

Whilst it is expected that the Serbian will rapidly recover from his recent misfortunes, he needs to keep his guard up in the draw. Djokovic’s opening match could be against Tomas Berdych, who has he defeated in 25 out of their 28 meetings. Providing Berdych defeats the unpredictable Bernard Tomic in his opening match. Further, in the draw, the top seed could face challenges from John Millman and Roberto Bautista Agut. Although there are other threats lurking in his section, including defending champion John Isner being a possible quarter-final opponent.

Djokovic currently has a win-loss record of 42-6 in the tournament. He made his debut back in 2006.

Federer on course for Wawrinka test

After being denied the Indian Wells title by Dominic Thiem, Roger Federer aims to get back on track. He will be hoping that history will not repeat itself after getting knocked out in the second round of the tournament 12 months ago.

“Everybody’s got to get used to center court or the conditions at the new site. I’m eager to find out how it’s going to be like.” The three-time champion said about the new venue.
“I feel really good, so why shouldn’t I go into the tournament and to the event confident? But then again, we’ll see what the draw is like. We will see how I feel in six days. There is still a lot of open question marks.”

Federer’s path to the title could see him lock horns once again with Stan Wawrinka in the third round. A player he defeated in straight sets only last week. He could start against Australia’s Matthew Ebden, who plays a qualifier in his opening match.

“I’m going to Miami. The body is perfectly fine. That also always keeps me upbeat, and I feel it’s a privilege when I feel this way leaving a tournament.”

Making his debut back in 1999, Federer has won 50 main draw matches at the tournament and last won the title in 2017.

Thiem’s sunshine double bid

Fresh off winning his maiden Masters 1000 title, Dominic Thiem is aiming to continue his winning momentum. After a lacklustre start to the season due to illness, the Austrian defeated four seeded players on route to the Indian Wells title, including his third career win over Federer.

“What makes me happy that I turned pretty bad start to the season to a very good one. I’m back in the top 8 in the race. I’m 4 in the rankings, which is my best ranking. So I turned it from really bad into really good.” Said Thiem.

Thiem now has the chance of achieving the sunshine double, where a player wins both Indian Wells and Miami within the same month. The milestone is a rare occurrence in the sport. In fact, only seven men and three women has achieved it.

Thiem’s draw has ensured that he will play nobody ranked higher than 16th seed Gael Monfils until at least the quarter-final stage. Monfils is currently recovering from an Achilles injury. The 25-year-old has only made it to the quarter-finals of Miami in one out of four attempts. However, it has been reported by some that the courts at the Hard Rock venue are slower. Something that favours Thiem’s game.

The Next gen clan

20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas didn’t have a pleasant experience in his first match as a top 10 player. Losing in straight sets to Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is another rapidly rising star of the men’s game. Seeking to make up for it in Miami, Tsitsipas will be playing in a Masters 1000 main draw for only the 12th time in his career.

Seeded eighth in the draw, the Greek is hoping to reach the quarter-final of a Masters event for only the second time in his career. In order to do that, he may need to overcome either Denis Shapovalov or Marin Cilic in the third round. He could play fellow Next Gen player Ugo Humbert in his opening match if the Frenchman wins his first round match against a yet-to-be decided qualifier.

28th seed Frances Tiafoe in the youngest American player in the top 100. He faces a potentially tricky start to his campaign. Awaiting him will be either former French Open semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis or ex junior world No.1 Miomir Kecmanović. Kecmanović was a surprised quarter-finalist in Indian Wells.

List next gen players in the top 100 (w/c 18/3/2019)

Ranking
Player
Age
Playing 2019 Miami Open
57 Felix Auger-Aliassime 18 Yes
23 Denis Shapovalov 19 yes
95 Miomir Kecmanovic 19 yes
10 Stefanos Tsitsipas 20 yes
26 Alex de Minaur 20 no
63 Ugo Humbert 20 yes
98 Casper Ruud 20 yes
3 Alexander Zverev 21 yes
34 Frances Tiafoe 21 yes
56 Taylor Fritz 21 yes
58 Reilly Opelka 21 yes
61 Jaume Munar 21 yes
99 Andrey Rublev 21 yes

Crunch time for 2018 finalists

Reigning champion Isner and runner-up Alexander Zverev will be feeling the pressure in the tournament. Isner, who has won one title since his triumph in Miami 12 months ago, is defending 1000 points. Meanwhile, Zverev is defending 600.

Isner has enjoyed a solid start to 2019 be winning 10 out of 16 matches player. Reaching the semi-finals of three consecutive tournaments before losing in the third round at Indian Wells to Karen Khachanov. Nevertheless, Isner must advance to at least the semi-finals in Miami to have a chance of remaining in the world’s top 10. A position he has held since September 10th 2018.

Meanwhile, Zverev has already contested a final on the tour this season at the Mexican Open in Acapulco. However, the German has been hindered by illness recently and looked far from his best during his latest match on the tour.

This year Isner is seeded seventh and Zverev second.

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Nicolas Jarry Aims To Follow In Family Footsteps After Reaching Bastad Final

Nicolas Jarry looks to join his grandfather in winning an ATP title as he reaches the Bastad final.

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Nicolas Jarry (@FOXSport_Chile - Twitter)

Nicolas Jarry will look to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps tomorrow when he takes on Juan Ignacio Londero in the Bastad final. 

 

The Chilean was in fine form today as he beat another Chilean in Federico Delbonis in the semi-finals today, 6-3 6-2 in 64 minutes.

It is Jarry’s third ATP final and his second of the season following his final in Geneva, where he wasted two championship points to lose to Alexander Zverev.

Should the 23 year-old be triumphant on Sunday, he will join his grandfather as an ATP titlist after Jaime Fillol Sr. won six tour titles and finished a high of number 14 in the rankings in 1974.

Next up for Jarry is Cordoba champion Juan Ignacio Londero, who cruised past 2016 Swedish Open champion Albert Ramos-Vinolas in straight sets.

The 6-3 6-4 victory included the Argentinian winning 73% of his first service points as he dominated the Spaniard in the 1 hour and 21 minute win.

It will be the second final of the season for Londero, who has enjoyed thriving on the clay in 2019 which has helped him reach a career high ranking of 58 in the world in June.

A good sign for Londero, was that en route to winning his lone title in 2019 in Cordoba, he beat Jarry in their only previous ATP World Tour meeting.

Both men will look to cap off an excellent week tomorrow as the final is scheduled for 2pm local time.

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Alexander Bublik Praises Mentality Change Ahead Of Newport Semi-Finals

Alexander Bublik is on the rise after changing his mentality as he looks to win his first ATP title in Newport this weekend.

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Alexander Bublik (@TennisHalloFame - Twitter)

Alexander Bublik praises his change in his mental approach to tennis after reaching the semi-finals in Newport. 

 

The 22 year-old from Kazakhstan is arguably having one of the best seasons of his career, having reached a career high ranking of 82 in 2019.

Having won three challenger events in Budapest, Pau and Monterrey, Bublik is full of confidence and is currently trying to transition that form on the ATP tour.

In an interview with the ATP website, Bublik has praised a change in mentality for the improvement in form, “When I was a kid I got in mental troubles a lot because I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to win this match. I want to win this tournament’,” Bublik said to atptour.com.

“Then last year when I broke my ankle is when I realised it’s fine… I’ve got to work hard to make it here, to make more and more, so that’s why I’m working hard every day trying to succeed.”

There is no doubting that Bublik has the talent as he has a unique style, which includes tweeners and during his quarter-final match with Tennys Sandgren in Newport, hit four aces in a game which concluded with an underarm ace.

However the world number 83 has said that he entertains himself first and aims to stand out from the crowd, “I entertain myself first. That’s the most important thing for me,” Bublik explained.

“Always be a leader, not a follower, You just have to be your own leader, make your own decisions,” Bublik said when speaking about one of his tattoos.

Well Bublik’s fate is certainly in his own hands when he faces Marcel Granollers for a spot in his first ever ATP final on Saturday.

The other semi-final will see top seed John Isner take on 4th seed Ugo Humbert as the Frenchman looks to take advantage of an under-par American.

In both of his matches, Isner has needed a third set to overcome both Kamil Majchrzak and Matthew Ebden as he looks to win a 3rd title at the Hall Of Fame Open.

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Bernard Tomic Sent Warning About Behaviour As Wimbledon Appeal Rejected

Bernard Tomic’s appeal was rejected after being fined all of his prize money for his first round defeat to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga at Wimbledon.

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Bernard Tomic (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

Bernard Tomic has been sent a stinging warning about his behaviour after his Wimbledon appeal was rejected. 

 

The Australian lost his first round match at Wimbledon to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in 58 minutes a couple of weeks ago in another lacklustre effort.

Although in previous years he may have escaped punishment, this time the grand slam board decided to deduct all his prize money as a result of his straight sets defeat.

This sent a clear message to the tennis world as they want to cut out lack of effort and give places in grand slams to competitors that will try their best.

Of course, Tomic wasn’t exactly pleased with the ruling and decided to appeal against the ruling which stated that he did not play to “required professional standards.”

However the appeal didn’t only get rejected, it got slammed down by board director Bill Babcock in a stinging letter to the controversial Australian.

In the letter Babcock referred to Tomic’s past history in lack of effort during matches, “A review of your historical record of misconduct at grand slams, never mind elsewhere, provides little justification for an adjustment,” Babcock said.

“In your case, Bernard, I am sure you would agree there is no historical evidence to give comfort to the theory that you can reform your behaviour.

“Admittedly, I am sceptical that you can achieve this reform of grand slam on-court behaviour, Many others, no doubt, would be even more than just sceptical. Good luck and I hope to be pleasantly surprised in the future by your successful reform.”

In the letter, Babcock added that if Tomic escapes a sanction in his next eight grand slam events, then he will be refunded 25 percent of his prize money.

Despite this outcome, Tomic plans on appealing this latest inquest further as he currently prepares for the ATP 250 event in Atlanta next week, “I don’t care about this 25 per cent, I care about the right thing for players in the future,” Tomic told the New York Times.

In a separate case, Anna Tatishvili was refunded all of her prize money after appealing successfully after her fine for not meeting professional standards at Roland Garros.

The American lost 6-0 6-1 in her first round match to Maria Sakkari in only her third tournament back since 2017.

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