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Miami Open Men's Preview: Has the Carlos Alcaraz part of the season begun?
We explore the Spaniard's chances of completing the Sunshine Double, and the players with the best chance of stopping his title defense.
Published Mar 21, 2023
Line Calls, presented by FanDuel: Zach's Miami Open men's picks to win
We’ve had a Novak Djokovic part of the season. We’ve had a Daniil Medvedev part of the season. Are we about to embark on a Carlos Alcaraz part of the season? In one fell—and rapid—swoop on Sunday in Indian Wells, he took the No. 1 ranking back from Djokovic, and ended Medvedev’s 19-match win streak. Now the Spaniard will go from strength to strength when he tries to follow up that victory by defending his title in Miami.
Can anyone stop Alcaraz from completing the first of what could be several Sunshine Doubles? Here’s a look ahead at the men’s draw.
Alcaraz's chances of completing the double are as good as can be expected for such a rare feat. He didn’t drop a set in Indian Wells, and he dropped just one set in Miami last year. While he aggravated a leg injury last month, he didn’t appear to have any physical trouble this past week, and his final-round win over Medvedev hardly required a Herculean effort.
Still, there are players who could test him in his quarter. His first match could come against Andy Murray or big-serving Maxime Cressy. Tommy Paul and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, his possible fourth-round opponents, are both playing quality tennis at the moment. And the second-highest seed in this section, Holger Rune, beat him last year.
- Player to Watch: Wu Yibing. The Dallas champ opens against Kyle Edmund
- First-round match to watch: Murray vs. Dusan Lajovic
- Potential third-round match to watch: Taylor Fritz vs. Denis Shapovalov
It seems like it’s time for Casper Ruud to make some kind of a move, doesn’t it? So far in 2023 he’s gone out early in Australia, Acapulco, and Indian Wells. And this week he’s defending runner-up points in Miami. All in all, his No. 3 ranking is starting to look a little dated.
On paper, Ruud looks safe, until a possible fourth-round meeting with Alexander Zverev; the German played like his old self in Dubai and Indian Wells, and has been to the final in Miami before. More trouble lies on the other side of this quarter, too, in the form of Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner, each of whom has had some big results this season.
- Crowd favorite: J.J. Wolf. The American will start against Alexander Bublik. The winner gets Rublev.
In my women’s preview, I wondered whether Aryna Sabalenka’s early-season bubble might be burst by her loss in the Indian Wells final. The same question can be asked of Medvedev, whose 19-match win streak was brought to screeching halt by Alcaraz on Sunday. After playing 20 matches in a little more than a month, it might be tough for Medvedev to find the energy and drive to start winning again right away.
But his draw does give him a chance. The first seed he could face is Yoshihito Nishioka, and the other two seeds near him are Alex de Minaur and Matteo Berrettini; not chopped liver, exactly, but not in Medvedev’s league on a normal day. The two highest seeds he could play in the quarterfinals are Hubert Hurkacz or Cam Norrie.
- Also here: Ben Shelton. He could face Hurkacz in the third round.
At the top of this post I mentioned that Djokovic and Medvedev have each had hot streaks this season, and Alcaraz looks poised to start one of his own. Rankings-wise, that makes Stefanos Tsitsipas the odd man out. After reaching the Australian Open final, he’s won just one match. Like Ruud, Tsitsipas seems due. Looking at his draw, the opportunity is there. The three seeds in his half are Sebastian Baez, Lorenzo Musetti and Karen Khachanov.
Felix Auger-Aliassime and Frances Tiafoe are the top names in the opposite half from Tsitsipas. The Canadian and the American appear to be set for a crowd-pleasing fourth-round collision.
- First-round match to watch: Lorenzo Sonego vs. Dominic Thiem. Over the second half of 2022, the Thiem revival began to pick up a head of steam. At the moment, though, it has run out of gas. The 29-year-old is 1-6 this season, and 0-3 at his last three events.