PREVIEW: DJOKOVIC AND FEDERER PLAY ON BUSY DAY FOR MEN’S DRAW
By Tucker Verdi
Miami Gardens, FL — All sixteen men remaining will take to the court on Tuesday in the fourth round on Day 9 of the 2019 Miami Open presented by Itaú. The winner in each of the eight matches will advance to the Miami Open quarterfinals.
Top seed and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic leads the top half of the draw and plays on Stadium Court in the day session, going up against No. 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut. Djokovic is seeking his record seventh Miami Open singles title, which would be one more than Andre Agassi. Bautista Agut is seeking his fourth Masters 1000 semifinal — having done so previously in Madrid, Montreal, and Shanghai — and first in Miami.
“He is one of those players that make you work very hard for every single point,” Djokovic said of Bautista Agut after his third round win. “He doesn’t make mistakes. Just runs around the court. He’s very, very consistent and very solid. He improved his backhand, he improved his serve, and his forehand was always very, very solid and powerful.”
The two have clashed nine times on tour — most recently in the semifinals in Doha, where the Spaniard Bautista Agut upset Djokovic 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-4. That is one of only two wins Bautista Agut has over the 15-time major champion, having lost the other seven matches against him.
“He won against me in Doha this year,” Djokovic added, recalling the loss. “I was a set and a break up. I remember that match. He managed to turn the match around. I’ll definitely do my homework and hopefully get the win in that match… I think that’s what it’s going to take to win against Bautista.”
No. 7 seed John Isner continues his title defense in the first match on Stadium Court. At noon ET, the big man is set to take on No. 19 seed Kyle Edmund for his third Miami Open and 16th Masters 1000 quarterfinal. Edmund is in search of his first final eight appearance in Miami.
2018 Miami Open champion and American No. 1 Isner faces the British No. 1 Edmund for the third time in his career — the first since 2016, however. That year, Isner got the better of the Brit in straight sets at Roland Garros before Edmund got his revenge at the American’s home slam, beating him in four sets at the US Open.
Rounding out the top half is a match between up-and-comer No. 11 seed Borna Coric and perennial entertainer No. 27 seed Nick Kyrgios. The latter’s antics on court have drawn him attention over the years, but the Australian has yet to drop a set in a solid tournament thus far. He will play the Croatian Coric for the fourth time, having taken two of the previous three matches.
Also, qualifier Felix Auger-Aliassime looks to continue his surprising run at the Miami Open in a fourth-round matchup with No. 17 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime has already advanced to his first round of 16 at a Masters 1000 event, and will make his debut as the youngest player in the top 50 next Monday. Auger-Aliassime and Basilashvili will play for the first time.
No. 4 seed Roger Federer — a three-time winner of the Miami Open — is scheduled to play the last match on Stadium Court in the night session of Day 9. He leads the bottom half and takes on No. 13 seed Daniil Medvedev, who overcame a lengthy match with qualifier Reilly Opelka Monday afternoon, prevailing in three tiebreaks, 7-6(5), 6(5)-7, 7-6(0). Federer is seeking his 101st ATP title, which would put him just eight titles short of Jimmy Connors with 109, while Medvedev is looking to build on his recent success by winning a fourth title in seven months after victories in Winston-Salem, Tokyo, and Sofia.
“Thankfully I played him last year twice in Basel and Shanghai,” Federer said of Medvedev, who he just found out would be his fourth round opponent. “I’m looking forward to the game. But I’m very impressed about his progress, you know. I must say the last year has been unbelievable for him.”
Those two meetings in Basel and Shanghai are the only two matches between Federer and Medvedev, with the Swiss former World No. 1 getting the win on both occasions. Still, the 20-time Grand Slam champion was complimentary of the young Russian’s game.
“He’s clever how he, you know, plays the court, because he can play it up and down, and he’s unusual when he plays from back. He plays more flat than actually loopy… it’s a bit of a different approach.”
Also in action today is a pair of NextGen players who are seen as the future of the men’s game. No. 8 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, 20, and No. 20 seed Denis Shapovalov, 19, will meet for the third time in their young and budding rivalry. While the former is right-handed and the latter is left-handed, they share a similar style of play with their one-handed backhand — akin to their shared tennis idol, Roger Federer.
Their first meeting in Melbourne in 2018 saw the Canadian Shapovalov advance in straight sets, but the Greek Tsitsipas turned the tables in Monte Carlo, picking up a straight-set win as well. Tsitsipas is searching for his second Masters 1000 quarterfinal appearance, while Shapovalov is looking to make it to a third. Either way, with neither having reached that stage at the Miami Open before, we are guaranteed a first-time quarterfinalist when they go head-to-head in the last match on Grandstand.
No. 6 seed Kevin Anderson will battle for his third Miami Open quarterfinal against unseeded Jordan Thompson, who took down No. 10 seed Karen Khachanov in the third round. Three years ago, the two played for the first and only time, with Anderson prevailing easily in two quick set.
The last round of 16 matchup brings together No. 18 seed David Goffin and No. 28 seed Frances Tiafoe. The American Tiafoe will look to get his first win against the Belgian and break a streak of annual losses, having been defeated by Goffin once each in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
Play gets underway at noon ET, find the order of play here.