By Justin Ross
In its 32-year history, the Miami Open has hosted its fair share of young stars who have spiraled into legendary performers. In 1998, it was an 18-year-old Venus Williams who raised her first trophy at the event. In 2004, Miami gave birth to the first of many contests between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
In 2017, a new generation of stars is among the field. Five American players who are 21 and younger competed in the 2017 Miami Open. Here’s how they did:
Maryland native Tiafoe was a qualifier in the tournament. At age, 19 he’s the youngest of the group, but don’t let his age fool you.
After taking care of two qualifiers, he defeated Russia’s Konstantin Kravchuk for the second time in two weeks 7-5, 5-7, 6-1.
In the round of 64, Tiafoe was paired against one of his idols in Roger Federer. In the first set of their match, Tiafoe proved he could hang by taking Federer to tiebreak. He would lose to the Swiss magician 7-6(2), 6-3.
“I think he's going to be really good, like most of the NextGen campaign, if you like, are going to be good players. Plus, they're pushing each other up right now. They have a good dynamic. They are quite friendly also with one another yet they have good rivalry,” Federer said post-match.
Born just 10 days before Tiafoe is 19-year-old Michael Mmoh, a wildcard and Florida resident. Mmoh has shown tremendous growth over the past year. He entered 2016’s Miami tournament at No. 370, but now he’s up to a career-high No. 179.
In the round of 128, Frenchman Nicholas Mahut defeated Mmoh 6-3, 6-2. Mahut enters the round of 16 with a match against Rafael Nadal, which proves he’s a respectable opponent and someone Mmoh can learn from.
The last of the 19-year-olds is Taylor Fritz, a California native. In 2017, he reached his 5th ATP Challenger Tour final in Dallas. At Indian Wells, Fritz had an impressive second-round a win over then world No. 7 Marin Cilic. This marked his first victory over a top 10 competitor.
He entered the main draw in Miami with a win over Adam Pavlasek 6-2, 6-3. In the round of 64, he lost to Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber, but not after taking him to tiebreak in a third set! The result was 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(4).
The California native may be just 20 years old, but he already has two ATP Challenger titles. At age 19, he secured his first victory against a top 100 opponent against Diego Schwartzman, and earlier this year he won in his opener at the Australian Open.
In Miami, two victories in qualifying awarded him a slot in the main draw. In main play, he had his first win over a top 50 opponent when he beat word No. 43 Daniel Evans 7-5, 0-6, 6-3.
In his second round, he pushed Spain’s Fernando Verdasco to tiebreak in the first set, but he was ultimately defeated 7-6(9), 7-5.
In 2015, Donaldson did not drop a set in route to his first ATP Challenger Tour singles title. In September of 2016, Donaldson broke into the top 100 world rankings. His run at the 2017 Miami Open has him primed for another huge year.
After defeating two qualifiers in straight sets, Donaldson hasn’t looked back.
In his first match in the main draw, he defeated No. 45 Kyle Edmund 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-2. He followed the victory with another win over a top 50 competitor when he defeated No. 33 Mischa Zverev 6-4, 6-4.
In the third round, he achieved his first win over a top 10 competitor when Milos Raonic had to retire from play due to injury.
Donaldson is the first qualifier to reach the round of 16 in Miami since 2011. He will battle another American in Jack Sock. The two are set to battle on Tuesday.
About the Miami Open presented by Itaú
The 2017 Miami Open will be played March 20-April 2 at the Crandon Tennis Center in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Miami Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men's and women's tennis players in the world. The tournament is widely regarded as the most glamorous on the ATP and WTA calendars because of its exotic Miami location, thriving nightlife, five-star hotels and restaurants, beautiful weather and beaches, and its celebrity appeal. For ticket information, call +1.305.442.3367 or visit www.miamiopen.com.
Itau is the largest Latin America privately owned bank, with approximately 95,000 employees and operations in 20 countries throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Itaú’s relationship with sport goes back to the 1970s, when Itaú first sponsored the Itaú Tennis Cup in Brazil in 1970. Itaú has been a sponsor of the Miami Open for the last six years, and also sponsors the Rio Open, the only combined ATP/WTA event in South America. Itaú also supports the Brazilian Women’s Tennis Circuit, only female professional tournament in South America, certified by the Brazilian Tennis Confederation (CBT) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), as well as the Tennis Institute Training Center, responsible for the development of young, new talent.
IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion and media operating in more than 25 countries around the world. IMG’s businesses include Events & Media, College, Golf, Tennis, Performance and IMG Academy, Fashion, Models, Clients, Licensing, Joint Ventures, and creative management agency Art + Commerce. In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, the world’s leading entertainment and media agency. Together, the companies offer an unparalleled client roster; strategic partnerships with sponsors and brands; and marquee assets across sports, entertainment, events, music and fashion.