Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2019 Miami Open presented by Itau.
Bienvenidos a Miami.
Anybody else getting serious Will Smith circa 1997 vibes when they read the opening above? In any case, the tennis world descends upon the Floridian metropolis this week for another “kind of a big deal” tennis tournament, a mere few days after the conclusion of the previous event of the kind.
Canadians must be the most dismayed ones at needing to make the trip from Indian Wells to Miami, as they enjoyed in the state of California a performance that rivals, well, almost any in the country’s history? Okay maybe it’s hyperbole, or just recency bias speaking, but whatever: one 18-year-old winner on the WTA as well as a semifinalist on the men’s side, and considering the quality of the wins involved no less, is about as good as it gets for Canadian tennis for a single-week event. But that’s neither here nor there.
All of which is to say that Canada sure had quite a lot of fun at Indian Wells and that’s really what it’s all about. Over the past few days, the country also discovered yet another young phenom to add to the two it already had, so all in all it really couldn’t have unfolded any better.
I hope Canadians like tennis because they are getting awfully good at it
— Christopher Clarey (@christophclarey) March 16, 2019
That all said, welcome to, yes, Miami for a tournament that pretty much mirrors the BNP Paribas Open that came just before it, thereby kinda cheapening just how massive and stunning the whole thing is? It’s yet another combined event for both women and men that takes place over more than the typical one week events of their stature usually demand. It’s a big deal, is what we’re saying and what we’ve already said.
Just like we did last time for Indian Wells, here too we’ll try to predict how both main singles draws will unfold. Can we do better than how we did two weeks ago? Probably not. Will we try? You bet.
You know what they say, right? If you were so wrong the first time, just run it back another time because odds are that it won’t be nearly so bad the second time around. Okay, no one actually does say that but the point is that we were deeply wrong in our predictions for Indian Wells a couple of weeks ago, but why not double down this week with many of the same principal actors?
The two top seeds Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep had definitely disappointing results in California but they should be able to bounce back: their draw is tricky, but not impossible to navigate. Also making the semifinals in mild surprises will be Ashleigh Barty and Belinda Bencic.
Quarterfinals: Naomi Osaka over Aryna Sabalenka; Ashleigh Barty over Donna Vekic; Belinda Bencic over Sloane Stephens; Simona Halep over Serena Williams
Semifinals: Naomi Osaka over Ashleigh Barty; Simona Halep over Belinda Bencic
Final: Simona Halep over Naomi Osaka
Our 6x champ took the court for the first time this afternoon.
Welcome back to Miami, @DjokerNole! #MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/TvlsBOM2D0
— Miami Open (@MiamiOpen) March 18, 2019
Was his third-round loss at Indian Wells a harbinger of things to come for Novak Djokovic, a sort of return of the long winter before its arrival, or a mere blip on the radar of the man who remains the most formidable force on the men’s circuit? Likewise, is the ongoing and unrelenting excellence of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal more telling of the pair or the fact that youngsters on the ATP World Tour have simply not managed to step up and make a dent in the hierarchy at the top?
In any case, while we’re pondering these existential questions, find our predictions below for the Miami Open on the men’s side.
Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic over Milos Raonic; Nick Kyrgios over Dominic Thiem; Roger Federer over Karen Khachanov; Denis Shapovalov over Alexander Zverev
Semifinals: Nick Kyrgios over Novak Djokovic; Roger Federer over Denis Shapovalov
Final: Nick Kyrgios over Roger Federer
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG