ATP Masters 1000Miami Open

Four Lingering Questions as the Miami Open Kicks Off

What to look out for as the second half of the Sunshine Double gets underway.

The start of the 2022 ATP Season has offered up many exciting developments. We’ve seen maiden ATP titles won. Kokkinakis won in his hometown of Adelaide, Auger-Aliassime with his victory in Rotterdam, and Bublik won Montpellier.

We’ve witnessed one of the more stunning doubles runs in recent (or not-so-recent) memory by Kokkinakis and Kyrgios in which they won the Australian Open Men’s Doubles title as a wildcard team, running through the draw in magical fashion and leaving multiple of their fellow countrymen bitter along the way (see here and here).

We’ve witnessed Nadal’s white-hot start to the season (he’s 20-1 so far), which, unless you predicted Djokovic’s continuous absence, I think some have found to be quite unexpected.

And, most recently, we’ve seen Fritz win Indian Wells, a tremendous feat for an American considering Fritz was three years old when an American last won the tournament (Agassi did it in 2001).

All of this leads us up to the second Masters 1000 tournament for the ATP season: the 2022 Miami Open, which begins today.

This will be the third year since the tournament has moved from the more sequestered and tired yet homey and adored Key Biscayne venue to the massive Hard Rock Stadium, the same 65,000 person venue primarily used as home base for the Miami Dolphins NFL team.

Last year’s event yielded an unexpected outcome: 26th seeded Hubert Hurkacz defeated 21st seeded Jannik Sinner in the final. The match represented the first time that either player had reached the final of a Masters 1000 event and acted as a catalyst for the best year of their careers thus far.

This offers up the question: what does this year’s Miami Open have in store for us? What percolating storylines continue to unfold? Which new stories might begin to bloom?

Below, we share our lingering questions as the tournament starts.

Will The Miami Open, Like This Year’s Indian Wells, Be A Marker Of Positive Developments For American Men’s Tennis?

fritz indian wells 2022

As Djokovic continues to drop out of events, and Nadal announced a stress fracture in his rib, sidelining him for 4-6 weeks, there continues to be a growing void of dominance in men’s tennis. A void that, just days ago, we saw Fritz exploit as he captured the biggest title of his career.

Fritz’s win overshadowed multiple moments in Indian Wells that sparked hope for American men’s tennis. Let’s review.

Tommy Paul took down Zverev in a third set breaker in the second round with a thrilling final match point.

Jenson Brooksy routed Khachanov before then, convincingly defeated Tsitsipas in three sets (Brooksby ultimately fell to Cameron Norrie, the defending champion).

Both Sebastian Korda and Jack Sock lost disappointing third set matches to Nadal and Tsitsipas, respectively, in which they had substantial opportunities to win the match.

These data points signal a promising 2022 for American men’s tennis. At the very least, noise will be made more so than what transpired in 2021.

Will the momentum continue for the Americans in Miami? When a player wins a breakthrough title the way Fritz did, the likelihood of seeing a hangover performance in Miami might be high.

I’m not confident we’ll see back-to-back deep runs from him, but there might be hope elsewhere among the American men.

In Miami’s context, Reilly Opelka has an opportunity. His showing at Indian Wells was strong, taking out Denis Shapovalov before falling to Nadal in a close two-set match. I like Opelka to advance over Monfils before a challenging meeting with Berrettini.

The draw also poses another opening for Brooksby to make a run. With the way he dispatched Tsitsipas at Indian Wells, there’s no reason why he can’t march through Basilashvili and Bautista-Agut on his way to a potential duel with Medvedev.

And, as always, former Miami Open champion John Isner can move his way through the bracket.

Is The Doubles Side Of The Game Having A Tennis Moment?

kokkinakis kyrgios

Kyrgios says his antics are good for tennis. After witnessing the Kyrgios-Kokkinakis run at the Australian Open, it’s hard to argue against the idea that Kyrgios doesn’t have a positive effect specifically on tennis viewership.

To offer one interesting data point, the YouTube views for the highlights of the Australian Open Men’s Doubles Final (Kyrgios-Kokkinakis vs Purcell-Ebden) were nearly double that of the views of the highlights for one of the quarterfinal matches between Sinner and Tsitsipas (412K views compared 214K views).

I haven’t seen the numbers, but I’d venture to bet that there are few players out there right now that could generate viewership for Doubles in the fashion that Kyrgios has orchestrated.

The fun carried over into Indian Wells as the Kyrgios-Kokkinakis pair won their first round before falling in a blockbuster face off to Sock-Isner, another team comprised of historically singles-first players.

Sock-Isner then seemed to take a queue from the doubles energy sparked at the Aussie Open, going on an exciting run of their own to capture the Indian Wells title. Once again, this was an example of the countrymen feeding on the “homecourt” atmosphere.

Sock isn’t playing doubles in Miami – which is undoubtedly a bummer – but Isner is paired with Hurkacz!

Kyrgios-Kokkinakis are positioned for a second-round clash with 3rd-seeded Cabal-Farah. Other teams containing top singles players include Shapovalov playing with Bopanna, Opelka-Sinner, Khachanov-Rublev, and Tsitsipas-Lopez.

I’ll always appreciate the teams that are primarily doubles specialists. Still, I argue that when singles players crossover and experience success on the doubles side, the sport benefits because, the fans enjoy it.

It’s happening so far in 2022, and I hope this doubles moment gets extended into the Miami tournament.

What Are Some Potentially Juicy Mid-tournament Matchups?

miami open 2022 draw

Let’s get ahead of ourselves and imagine possible matchups that could leave us rubbing our hands in anticipation. Here’s a laundry list of the ones that stand out to me:

Alcaraz vs Musetti (3rd round)

This would require Musetti to take down Cilic, which would be an upset on hardcourts, but I selfishly would love to see a showdown of these two up-and-comers.

Musetti is two years older than Alcaraz, but he seems to be two years behind him in finding his footing on hardcourts. Musetti’s win against Hurkacz at Rotterdam is his most impressive hardcourt win of the year thus far.

The buzz around Alcaraz returned to a high at Indian Wells, similar to his deep run at last year’s US Open. If Alcaraz and Musetti meet, it would be their first clash, and it might foretell a post-Big Three rivalry to enjoy for years to come.

Tsitsipas vs De Minaur (3rd round)

Did you know Tsitsipas is 7-0 all-time against De Minaur? Perhaps that statistic is simply a reflection of a strong mismatch between their two games. But given De Minaur’s grit, I’d like to think he breaks through eventually. At some point, that head-to-head record starts to get ridiculous.

Bublik vs Isner (Round of 16)

This matchup would be intriguing, especially considering how Bublik beat Zverev at Montpellier.

Bublik, a big server himself, has demonstrated how the block or chip return can be used to neutralize big serves, switch from defence to offence, and manifest service breaks.

He did this as a part of a winning strategy against Zverev at Montpellier, challenging Zverev to be more aggressive and play first-strike tennis. If he meets Isner later on (Isner must beat Gaston and Norrie), the neutralizing return might be something he deploys against the Isner serve.

Medvedev vs Brooksby (Round of 16)

This would be a potential thrilling 4th round matchup and would be the first time the two have met.

Could Brooksby’s patience, craftiness, and off-pace shots perturb Medvedev, like Dimitrov’s slicing and redirecting did in last year’s Indian Wells? I’d love to see which way this one goes.

Medvedev has never made it past the quarterfinals at Miami, and he’ll have a good challenge getting there in the first place if he runs into Brooksby.

Who Will Emerge In The Absence Of The Big Three?

big three

Just as in 2021, we have a Miami Open without Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic. So, who will step up to win it all?

Vegas and the experts are fading Medvedev and Zverev. That feels about right considering their showings at Indian Wells and Medvedev’s history at the Miami event.

In the bottom half of the draw, I like Berrettini to show up in a big way and win the whole thing. He’ll need to beat Opelka (he’s 0-1 against him), but Berrettini has been one of the most consistent hard court players across the last 12 to 18 months. I think his showing at the Australian Open earlier this year was a fortuitous sign for 2022.

On the top half, I like Auger-Aliassime or Brooksby. I’ll take Felix. He had an early exit at Indian Wells, but perhaps that bodes well; his body is rested, and he’s still carrying momentum from success found on the hardcourts this year.

Grant V

Grant is both a dedicated tennis player and fan, having competed at the collegiate level in the United States and regularly following the pro tour. Particularly, he enjoys exploring and discussing tennis strategy, statistics, bold predictions, and on-court outbursts. His favourite players are Novak Djokovic, Gael Monfils, Coco Gauff, and Sebastian Korda.

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16 Comments

  1. Gotta think Alcaraz continues his hot streak. I like how the writer breaks down some of the juicy matchups, but I don’t think Brooksby is as reliable as he suggests.

  2. To me ,the most personable of the younger players,Tsitsipas and Zrerev have been very disappointing so far.
    Zrerev with his ridiculous temper tantrums and Tsitsipas just sort of fizzled.Very pleased for Taylor Fritz and Auger
    Allisime.The rest,well,we will see.

      1. Yes, both Felix and Denis are inconsistent. I don’t know what it is, focus loss? Easily broken and then back to being focused to break back. No idea where Raonic is these days, injured again, but he managed to close out a match with his big bulky body!

  3. Have to agree with Kyrgios im afraid, if he and Kokknnakis continue to be successful in doubles I can only see the viewing ratings going up, they are both explosive creative and really fun to watch so yeah good for doubles tennis ;which I’m all for, it is just shame that Kyrgios is such an immature twat, but i just love watching him play he is what he is and just what he does with racquet and ball is good enough without all the antics, but rather him any day than Zverev, that incident with the chair and umpire did it for me and as for his style of game its just very tedious to watch…….Loving Korda and Alcarez they would fill the void for me!

  4. Thank you, Grant, and welcome to PT (I think this is your first post?). As ever, it’s frustrating that so many players only win Masters titles in the absence of the Big Three, rather than by beating any of them (at least, when they’re fit!), but I guess you have to take the opportunities when you get them.

  5. Thanks Grant for the write-up. And, I will forgive you for having Djoker as one of your fav players! The tour is like a soap opera. So many different characters and playing styles is what makes it interesting. I’d say Alcatraz is the one to watch in the future. Yes, the Americans are finally getting on the map again. I’ll pick Medvedev for the title.

    1. He looked solid vs Murray. Although Murray not exactly offering much, just takes a wildcard and then onto the next event a round or two later 😀

  6. No win for Stan and Thiem in Marbella. Stan was 4-1 up second set, looked to be striking the ball well but a bit rusty on the movement and few errors. How did Thiem look? Did anyone see?

  7. Loved reading this! So glad you are writing!!
    Can’t wait for more bold predictions and discussions of on court outburst!

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