By Justin Ross
No. 62 Borna Coric over No. 8 Dominic Thiem
As the No. 6 seed in the tournament, Thiem received a first-round bye. Fresh off a quarterfinals run at Indian Wells, he took Stan Wawrinka to three sets. Before that, he won the Rio Open with a victory over Pablo Carreno Busta.
On the other hand, Coric’s ranking at 62 had plummeted since a career high of 33 in 2015. He hadn’t gone past the second round of a tournament in 2017, and he also held a 3-15 record against top 10 opponents, which made him an underdog against the powerful Austrian.
Result: Coric took the match 6-1, 7-5 on his way to his first third round appearance in Miami.
No. 158 Guido Pella over No. 13 Grigor Dimitrov
Not only was his rank better, but Dimitrov’s impressive semifinals run at the Australian Open made him a competitor to watch for. Dimitrov also won their only previous meeting in straight sets, so he had familiarity with his foe.
In comparison, Pella had a poor start to 2017 with a 3-7 record in match play. In February, his rank dropped to No. 166, which was his lowest since March of 2015.
Result: Pella shocked his German opponent with a round of 64 win 6-3, 7-6(4).
No. 77 Jeremy Chardy over No. 9 Marin Cilic
With a 2-1 head-to-head record, the Croat, Cilic, had the advantage over his French foe. Cilic also had experience on his side with 185 more career wins and 15 more ATP titles. Both competitors started 2017 with shaky 5-6 records, but a first-round bye should have aided Cilic against his opponent, who had to expend energy in the round of 128.
Result: The Frenchman secured the upset with a 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 win, only to lose to Italy’s Fabio Fognini in the next round.
No. 72 Lara Arruabarrena over No. 8 Madison Keys
Going into the match, Keys held a 1-0 record in head-to-head meetings. She was making her seventh appearance in Miami, and she had the crowd behind her a Florida resident. Due to a wrist inury, 2017 was a shaky start for Keys, but Arrubarrena was dealing with challenges of her own.
The Spaniard was making her main draw debut after she fell in qualifying three times. She also had a six-match losing streak to start 2017, which can affect an athlete on and off the court. As if that wasn’t enough, Arruabarrena owned a 1-11 record against top 10 opponents.
Result: Arruabarrena advanced with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Keys.
No. 594 Ajla Tomljanovic over No. 13 Elena Vesnina
Arguably the biggest upset of the tournament, Vesnina was on fire before the loss. She was fresh off a win at Indian Wells in which she defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova, Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber. Her impressive play awarded her a first-round bye in Miami.
In addition to ranking more than 575 spots lower than Vesnina, Tomljanovic had a first round exit at Indian Wells. A 2017 win at Acapulco was her first main draw win since 2015, and she was 3-13 against top 20 opponents. Riddled by injuries, Tomljanovic was a major underdog—especially after she dropped the first set.
Result: Tomljanovic advanced with a 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 win.