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 2021 Miami Open presented by Itau.

Welcome to Miami.

We’re here for what should be one of the biggest prizes of the 2021 tennis season—and surely we’ll get to it in a minute—but mostly we’re here for a study in contrast.

In a typical season, we would have just finished a thrilling 10 days in the Californian desert to now head over to Florida for another massive event. In a typical season, the Indian Wells-Miami combo, happening back-to-back like it does, is one of the great joys of the sport. It’s thrilling, competitive and, well, wonderful.

But not this year

This year, in the second season that a pandemic affected, we get instead the contrast in reactions. On the one hand, the BNP Paribas Open organizers decided to postpone the 2021 edition of their tournament, thereby delaying the return of tennis to Indian Wells to later in the year. It isn’t entirely surprising, either: in the face of an awful number of COVID-19 cases in the state of California, they have preached caution.

On the other hand, the same folks in charge of the Miami Open were faced with the same dilemma but they reached a different conclusion. Despite Florida also being a hotbed of the coronavirus in the United States, they decided to open things back up to business. It seems like their line of thinkings was that regardless of the situation, there’s always good times to be had—or something to that extent.

In any case, please see our 2021 Miami Open draw preview and analysis below for both the WTA and the ATP.

Women’s draw

Welcome to what’s a fairly loaded draw on the women’s side—but just because it’s loaded doesn’t mean that there won’t be any surprises.

For the top section we anticipate an all-Belarus quarterfinal and the more experienced of the two players in Victoria Azarenka emerging victorious. Is it kind of wishful thinking? Sure, but why must this be a problem? There should be great things ahead for Simona Halep in the second section of the draw. Like, extremely good things if you see what we mean.

Then, as far as the lower half of the draw goes there is Naomi Osaka and then there is everyone else. Canadian Bianca Andreescu is included in the latter group, as she’s somehow still seeded No. 8 here. If she keeps playing more like she’s done in recent weeks and less like at the 2019 US Open, she won’t be seeded so high for so long anymore.

Quarterfinals: Victoria Azarenka over Aryna Sabalenka; Simona Halep over Petra Kvitova; Sofia Kenin over Garbine Muguruza; Naomi Osaka over Karolina Pliskova

Semifinals: Simona Halep over Victoria Azarenka; Naomi Osaka over Sofia Kenin

Final: Simona Halep over Naomi Osaka

Men’s draw

Welcome to the depleted main draw of the men’s Miami Open.

Look, there’s no point in harping on this point over and over and over again. Sure, the three biggest draws of the ATP will be missing in action in Florida, but that doesn’t mean that we should ignore the event altogether. Maybe the absence of the three men who have hogged almost every major title in men’s tennis for the better part of 15+ years now means that someone else can step up?

Better yet, maybe that someone who steps up can be the new demigod of the ATP, Aslan Karatsev? The Russian is somehow up to No. 27 in the ATP rankings now. If our predictions hold up, his rise should continue after this Miami Open.

Quarterfinals: Daniil Medvedev over John Isner; Grigor Dimitrov over Alexander Zverev; Aslan Karatsev over Andrey Rublev; Milos Raonic over Stefanos Tsitsipas

Semifinals: Daniil Medvedev over Grigor Dimitrov; Aslan Karatsev over Milos Raonic

Final: Aslan Karatsev over Daniil Medvedev

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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