By Justin Ross
World No. 30 Fernando Verdasco vs. World No. 4 Kei Nishikori
Nishikori is fresh off a win against Kevin Anderson, a South African who defeated him in their previous meeting. Verdasco’s victory came against American Ernesto Escobedo, who was making his Miami Open debut. At age 27, Nishikori has youth against the older Verdasco, age 30, but the Spaniard started 2017 with some good showings. He advanced to the finals in Dubai and the semis in Qatar.
With a finals appearance in Argentina and a quarterfinals run at Indian Wells, Nishikori has been sharp too. He also advanced to the 2016 Miami Open finals, but Verdasco is equally equipped for Miami. The Spaniard holds the record for active consecutive appearances at the Miami Open with 15.
What’s most intriguing: Verdasco is 2-2 in career play against his opponent. He lost his last meeting with Nishikori in 2016, but he pushed him to five sets. A proven track record gives him the knowledge and ability to secure another win. Look out for this one.
World No. 6 Roger Federer vs. World No. 34 Juan Del Potro
When the men’s draw was finalized, this potential clash turned into the talk of the tournament, but now it’s about to happen. A win at the Australian Open and Indian Wells has the Swiss native feeling on top of his game, but one must question his stamina at age 35. This will be his 16th Miami Open. He started his Miami campaign with a win over young American Frances Tiafoe 7-6(2), 6-3.
Del Potro’s youthful energy at age 28 could provide a much-needed boost. The 6-foot-6-inch Argentine has shown vast improvement over the past year. In 2016, he came into Miami ranked No. 366, but his current ranking at No. 34 is evidence of his maturation. In his second-round matchup, he made quick work of Robin Haase 6-2, 6-4,
What’s most intriguing: Federer holds a 15-5 record against the Argentine in career matchups, but their last meeting was in 2013, which gives this a degree of unfamiliarity. Furthermore, their last seven matches have gone to a deciding set, which proves Del Potro can keep up.
Federer also hasn’t played the Miami tournament since 2014. Could the overbearing humidity of South Florida get the best of him?
Meanwhile, Del Potro has started 2017 with an 0-3 record against top 10 opponents. Will he break the streak?
World No. 16 Nick Kyrgios vs. World No. 21 Ivo Karlovic
Kyrgios opened his Miami Open play with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Damir Dzumhur. He holds an 11-3 record in 2017, including a victory over Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells. On the other hand, Karlovic is evidence that a veteran can learn some new tricks. Despite being age 38, he ended 2016 with his first top-20 finish and he looked sharp in a 7-6(4), 6-1 win over Andrey Kuznetsov Saturday.
What’s most intriguing: In his first-round matchup, Kyrgios looked a little shaky. He trailed 0-3 in the opening set, but he bounced back to secure the win in a little over an hour. At 6-feet-11-inches, Karlovic’s length can bother opponents and, as a Florida resident, he’s familiar with court conditions in Miami.
Karlovic has experience and a dangerous serve. In 2015, he became the third player to secure 9,000 aces in his career, and at 156 mph, he has one of the fastest recorded serves in history. Kyrgios holds a 2-0 lead in career meetups with the Croatian, but their last bout was in 2015.
Check out the full results here: http://miamiopen.com/live-scoring-2017
Check out the full schedule here: http://miamiopen.com/2017-draws-and-order-of-play
Tickets for the annual event start at $12 for youth and $15 for adults. A group rate of $7 is also available for 20 or more and grant access to all day session matches. Tickets are on sale now, for more information go to www.miamiopen.com or call the Miami Open ticket office at 305-442-3367.
The 2017 Miami Open is scheduled for March 20 – April 2 and will once again be the hottest ticket in town. With ticket packages starting at just $136 and individual sessions starting at $20 the Miami Open will be the place-to-be.