Which two men will move within one win of earning their first ATP Masters 1000 title? Our look at Friday's Miami Open semifinals.
Would you want to play someone you beat 7-5 in the third set just two weeks ago? That’s the question Sinner will face on Friday in Miami.
The 19-year-old edged Bautista Agut in their only career meeting, in Dubai; now he’ll have to go through the difficult test of grinding down the stubborn Spaniard again, this time on a slower court. Bautista Agut’s confidence will likely be higher than normal, too, as he’s coming off a pair of memorable wins: Over John Isner, 9-7 in a third-set tiebreaker, and over No. 1 seed Daniil Medvedev in two surprisingly one-sided sets. (Miami is also where RBA upset Novak Djokovic two years ago.)
Sinner has played well to make his first Masters 1000 semifinal in just his third try, and if he’s connecting on his ground strokes, he’s one of the few guys who can blow the ball past Bautista Agut on a slow court like this. But if RBA simply plays his normal game, he’ll make life exceedingly tough on the kid. Winner: Bautista Agut
Ranking-wise, Rublev should be the favorite to win the Miami Open. He’s the only Top 10 player left, and the only one who was recently on a 22-match streak at 500s. But don’t tell the Russian that. He’s never even beaten the player he’s going to face on Friday.
“I’m not really thinking that deep yet,” Rublev said of his title prospects. “Tomorrow is a really tough match. Last time I lost to Hurkacz. I mean, my last and first time that we play, I lost to him.”
Hurkacz topped Rublev in three sets last fall in Rome. Perhaps more relevantly, the Pole has been having a big week in Miami, where he has knocked off Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic, and Stefanos Tsitsipas in succession. Can he keep that run of upset form going for one more round? Hurkacz, a rangy 6’5”, has all the tools. But Rublev has improved since they last met, especially when it comes to winning the important points. As we know, that’s what separates the finalists from the semifinalists. Winner: Rublev