By Daniel Perissé
Many young American players will get on court for the Miami Open presented by Itaú Men and Women’s qualifying dreaming of a spot in the 2021 main draw. First round play will happen on March 22nd, while the second round is scheduled for the next day at the Hard Rock Stadium courts. A total of 96 players (48 men and 48 women) will play for 12 places in each draw.
In the men’s draw, 25-year-old Mackenzie McDonald is the number one seed and will face Roberto Cid Subervi, from the Dominican Republic. The Piedmont, CA, native reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open this year, falling to Russian Daniil Medvedev.
Nineteen-year-old Brandon Nakashima, who already won a couple of Challenger titles, is another interesting player to watch. He plays Christopher Eubanks in an All-American match in the first round. Mitchell Krueger, Thai-Son Kwiatkowski, Jenson Brooksby, Ulises Blanch, Toby Alex Kodat, Ernesto Escobedo, Emilio Nava, Maxime Cressy and Bjorn Fratangelo are the other American hopefuls for a place at the main draw.
Another highlight of the men’s qualifying draw is Ivo Karlovic, former World No. 14. The 42-year-old Croatian, whose last ATP title dates back from 2016, plays Tatsuma Ito, from Japan.
Other players to watch are Bosnian Damir Dzumhur, former World No. 23 and winner of three ATP-level titles, and Thiago Seyboth Wild, winner at Santiago in 2019. The European, who is the third seed in the draw faces Blanch, while the second-seeded Brazilian plays Kodat, who had an impressive junior career, having reached out the No. 4 in the rankings.
As for the women’s qualifying, ten Americans will be part of the draw, which includes experienced players such as Bethanie Mattek-Sands. The 35-year-old from Rochester, who has reached world number one in doubles, was granted a Wild Card and will play against former singles top 5 Sara Errani from Italy in the first round.
On the other hand, it will be an opportunity to see young players from the US such as Whitney Osuigwe. The 18-year-old Bradenton native has a tough debut against Belgian Kirsten Flipkens, who has reached a career-high ranking as number 13 in singles back in 2013.
Two other youngsters, who are both 19 years old, are Wild Card Hailey Baptiste, who faces top seed Misaki Doi, from Japan, and Cathy McNally, who has two WTA doubles titles alongside American rising star Coco Gauff. The Cincinnati native will play against Tsvetana Pironkova, from Bulgaria.
Former top ten Coco Vandeweghe faces Aliona Bolsova, from Spain. The other Americans in the draw are Usue Maitane Arconada, Francesca di Lorenzo, Kristie Ahn, Caroline Dolehide and Wild Card Claire Liu.
Another young player to be watched is second-seeded Leylah Fernandez, who comes to Miami after winning the title in Monterrey, Mexico. The 18-year-old Canadian meets Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu in the first round.
The youngest players in the draw are Czech Linda Fruhvirtova and Alexandra Eala, from the Philippines, both with 15 years old. They received Wild Cards and will have their first experience in a WTA 1000 qualifying tournament.
Both the Men and the Women’s Qualifying matches start at 10:00am at Hard Rock Stadium.