Miami Open Daily Preview: Kerber/Stephens, Murray/Berrettini Headline Wednesday’s Play - UBITENNIS
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Miami Open Daily Preview: Kerber/Stephens, Murray/Berrettini Headline Wednesday’s Play

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Matteo Berrettini last week in Phoenix (twitter.com/ATPChallenger)

Wednesday features first round action in both the men’s and women’s singles draws.

The top men and women in the world are all present in Miami, with the notable exception of Novak Djokovic, who is skipping this tournament after an early loss in Indian Wells.  The top 32 seeds receive a bye in the 96-player singles draws, meaning seeded players will contest their opening matches later this week.

But Wednesday’s schedule still features some top names, and a few blockbuster first round encounters.  In a battle of Major champions to open the day’s play inside Hard Rock Stadium, recently-returned new mother Angelique Kerber faces 2018 Miami Open champ Sloane Stephens.  Later in the day, two-time Miami champ Andy Murray plays Matteo Berrettini, who is just returning from yet another injury layoff.  Plus, more Major champs in Naomi Osaka and Sofia Kenin will also be in action on Wednesday.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Sloane Stephens vs. Angelique Kerber – 12:00pm on Stadium Court

Kerber was in good form in Indian Wells, where she defeated Petra Martic, Jelena Ostapenko, and Veronika Kudermetova.  However, she was suffering from a back injury in her straight-set loss to Caroline Wozniacki.  Angie is 19-12 lifetime in Miami, with her semifinal appearance back in 2016 being her best result. 

Stephens’ title run here in 2018 came just six months after her surprising US Open triumph, and saw her beat four Major champions.  One of them was Kerber, who she thumped 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.  But Sloane’s most recent results have been much more modest, and she’s just 7-7 on the year.

Overall Stephens leads their head-to-head 5-2.  They’ve only played once within the past five years, which saw Kerber be victorious three years ago in the third round of the US Open.  Yet with this being only the fourth tournament of Angie’s comeback, and considering the back injury she was hampered by just a week ago, Sloane should be favored in this first round matchup.


Andy Murray vs. Matteo Berrettini (PR) – Third on Stadium Court

This will be Berrettini’s first ATP-level match since last year’s US Open, when he suffered a gruesome ankle injury in the second round.  Matteo was scheduled to return this past January at the Australian Open, but pulled out of that tournament with a foot injury.  Matteo did play a Challenger event last week in Phoenix, where he was the runner-up.  Surprisingly, this is only the Italian’s third main draw match in Miami, and he is 0-2 here.

Murray is 29-11 at the Miami Open, with his two titles coming in 2009 and 2013.  This year, which he has hinted may be his last on tour, he is just 3-7, after starting the year 0-4.  Two weeks ago in Indian Wells, he comfortably ousted David Goffin in the first round, before losing in straights to Andrey Rublev.

Berrettini is 3-2 against Murray, though their last meeting went to the Brit, and it was a doozy.  At last year’s Australian Open, Andy prevailed after nearly five hours in a fifth-set tiebreak, and after Matteo missed an easy put away while holding a match point.  Murray’s recent form has been disappointing, but with Berrettini having missed so much time due to injuries, I give Andy the slight edge to pull this one out.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Tomas Machac vs. Darwin Blanch (WC) – Blanch is a much-talked about 16-year-old American making his tour-level debut, who trains alongside Carlos Alcaraz at the Juan Carlos Ferrero Academy.  Machac is a 23-year-old from the Czech Republic who already owns victories this season over the likes of Frances Tiafoe, Andy Murray, and Stan Wawrinka.

Donna Vekic vs. Karolina Pliskova – Vekic may be the higher-ranked player, but Pliskova has dominated this rivalry, with a 7-1 edge at tour level.

Katie Volynets (Q) vs. Sofia Kenin – Kenin showed signs of rediscovering her previous form during 2023, but is just 1-7 in 2024, and arrives on a six-match losing streak.  Volynets is a 22-year-old American who reached the third round of Indian Wells two weeks ago, with wins over Mirra Andreeva and Ons Jabeur.  Last year in San Diego, Kenin beat Volynets in three sets.

Elisabetta Cocciaretto vs. Naomi Osaka – Osaka is 5-5 since her comeback from child birth began in January, though she’s now claimed five of her last seven matches.  Cocciaretto is coming off a title run just last week at an ITF-level event in Charleston. 


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Sinner; now aims for Third Title in Monte Carlo

Stylish Greek completes comeback win and re-enters the top ten.

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After winning two in a row in 2021-2022, Stefanos Tsitsipas is now in reach of a third title at the prestigious Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, after beating World number two Jannik Sinner in three gruelling sets.

The 25-year-old had to battle hard and come from a break down in the third to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and now plays Casper Ruud in tomorrow’s final. The Greek has had an indifferent start to the year with a 11-6 win-loss record, but today was his first top three victory since the 2022 Cincinatti Masters – where he beat Daniil Medvedev – and ensures a return back into the top ten of the men’s rankings.

Tsitsipas recognised how hard he had to fight and revealed after the match just how satisfied he was of his performance:

“It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play. Jannik was an extremely difficult opponent and it can be seen throughout the year so far. He has been very consistent and I could see that throughout today with his game. He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that. He gave me a very difficult game and the way I overcame it is true excellence.”

Sinner double faulted at 30-40 to gift the break early with the score at one game all. From there, Tsistipas rallied with poise and confidence in a brilliant opening set lasting 44 minutes including a stunning backhand down-the-line winner to open the game when serving at 4-3. He took the first set 6-4 after a tiring 18-shot rally – where both players hit all angles of the court – before Sinner hit a forehand wide.

However, 22-year-old Sinner struck back immediately on his first breakpoint at the start of the second set when he won a close exchange at the net and then took a 3-0 lead.  He later survived a breakback point when 4-2 up and crucially held on for 5-2. He faced more pressure when serving for the set at 5-3 and was taken to deuce but levelled the match at one-set-all on his second set point to give the crowd exactly what they were asking f

Sinner was now in full flow hitting powerfully from the baseline and once again broke early at the start of the final set to take a 3-1 lead. But with the match now entering the third hour he began to tire physically and called for the trainer during the changeover with the score at 4-3.  When the match resumed, he lost the next three games and the Greek had completed a remarkable turnaround, handing his opponent just his second defeat of the season in two hours and forty minutes.

“It helps a lot knowing I have a win like this under my belt. Having a win like this and getting to the levels of tennis again brings a lot of satisfaction to me,” Tsitsipas said. “When there is a lot of work put in each day, these are the type of matches you are aiming for.”

Sinner’s only loss prior to today was against Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells semi-finals. He has been the stand out player this year after already winning titles in Rotterdam, the Miami Open, and his maiden Grand Slam in Australia. Despite having won 25 matches overall though, he now trails Tsitsipas 3-6 in their head-to-head rivalry.

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Casper Ruud Reveals Shock After Knocking Out Novak Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

Casper Ruud is into his second career Masters 1000 final after beating Novak Djokovic for the first time.

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Casper Ruud is into his second Masters 1000 final of his career after recording his best ever win by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4 1-6 6-4.

The Norwegian defeated the world number one for the first time in his career as he overcame a mini-comeback from Djokovic to seal his place in the Monte-Carlo final.

Having lost his five previous meetings to Djokovic, Ruud played some fearless tennis under pressure as the eighth seed broke to close out a career-best win.

Speaking after the win Ruud admitted he was in a state of shock and was pleased with the victory, “I am super happy,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“This is a day I will remember for a long time. Beating a World No. 1 is something I have never done and beating Novak is something I have never done. I am very, very happy. I am a little bit in a state of shock right now.”

After achieving the seemingly improbable, Ruud will now look to win his first ever ATP title that’s above a Masters 1000 event when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte-Carlo final.

That’s a prospect Ruud is looking forward to as he prepares for one final challenge, “There is always one more match in tennis,” the Norwegian explained.

“Tomorrow is going to be a special day, playing a final here in Monte-Carlo. It is a great result but I have been chasing a big title for a few years now and tomorrow I will have another shot at it. I am going to give it my all. Stef is playing well. He is a great player on clay and on other surfaces as well, but I guess clay is maybe where he has had the most success and especially this tournament.

“So it is going to be another tough task, but I am up for it.”

The final will take place at 14:00 BST.

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Rafael Nadal Set For Opening Round Test Against Cobolli In Barcelona

Rafael Nadal will look to make his ATP tour return in Barcelona this week.

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Rafael Nadal is set for his return to tennis in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Nadal has been struggling with injury after being injured again in Brisbane this year.

The tournament in Brisbane was his first tournament back for a year as he suffered a hip injury at the Australian Open last year.

Now Nadal aims to return to competitive action in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Speaking earlier in the week Nadal was hopeful of a return to the tour in Barcelona, “Excited to be here for a few days before the start of the tournament,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“I’m here to see how it goes… can’t wait to try and play. I’ll let you know. Important to say that I don’t want to confirm I’ll be playing, but I hope so. We’ll see.”

Should Nadal play and win his opening round match then the Spaniard will play fourth seed Alex De Minaur in the second round.

The former world number one has won the title on 12 different occasions but hasn’t won the title since 2021.

Elsewhere in the draw defending champion Carlos Alcaraz will begin against Luca Van Assche or Zhizhen Zhang with the Spaniard projected to meet Borna Coric in the third round.

Alcaraz suffered an injury in Monte-Carlo and will be beginning his clay court campaign in Barcelona.

Also in action in Barcelona are Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.

Main draw action will begin on Monday.

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