At the 2023 Miami Open, Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek might be feeling like their status as world number one is as stable as a stilt house in Florida Everglades, albeit for different reasons.

Swiatek still holds her ranking crown by thousands of points, but the crocodiles are circling. Aryna Sabalenka and notably Indian Wells Champion Elena Rybakina are surging to the top of the sport in what is emerging as a magnetic triangular rivalry.

2023 Miami Open Women’s Draw Analysis

Iga got unlucky with this 2023 Miami Open draw: She drew the hot-handed Rybakina in her section. Having lost to Elena in their two previous meetings this year, they could meet as early as the quarterfinals. Rybakina’s 10 seed belies her current level of play. She’ll be seeking the back half of the Sunshine Slam, and fatigue could be a factor. However, Elena plays short rallies.

Also in that quarter: Swiatek could face Paula Badosa, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Jelena Ostapenko– all dangerous floaters.

Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff bookend the adjacent quarter with Victoria Azarenka in the middle. Gauff has a relatively smooth ride until she’d meet Jessica in that quarterfinal, while Pegula has seeds Danielle Collins, Magda Linette and Azarenka in her section. Not easy. She’s made deep runs in her four tournaments so far this year, but JPeg keeps running into tough draws. Let’s game this one out a bit. What if Gauff and Pegula, the stellar doubles team, have to play each other? They’ve only met once– in February of 2022 when Pegula won 4 and 4. This is a tough call. The surface slightly favors Jessica, but Coco’s serve is superior. That would be a great match among friends. I give Pegula’s consistency a slight edge.

The other half of the 2023 Miami Open women’s draw is less fraught. This is a real chance for Maria Sakkari to break through. She’s seeded 7 in this tournament, but the top seed in her quarter is Ons Jabeur, who’s been battling injuries. At Indian Wells, Jabeur even said she might have returned to tour too soon.

Sakkari’s biggest sticky wicket is a second round match against one of 2 former U.S. Open champs– Bianca Andreescu or Emma Raducanu. And bye the bye, Emma played brilliantly at Indian Wells, notching 3 upsets before running into Swiatek. Andreescu suffered the same fate in the round of 32. That’s a compelling first round match.

Rounding out the women’s draw, the ascending Sabalenka should not have any trouble making a deep run if she continues to serve with the same dominance that she has in 2023. The current world #2 trails only Caroline Garcia in most of the major serving categories, including percentage of service games won at 86%.

My players to watch:
QF: Rybakina, Pegula, Sakkari, Sabalenka
SF: Rybakina, Sabalenka
F: Rybakina

2023 Miami Open Men’s Draw Analysis

On the men’s side, Alcaraz needs to defend his Miami Open title in order to stay number one in the world. Otherwise Novak Djokovic, who could not be here again this year, stands to leapfrog the Spanish phenom. Unfortunately for Carlitos, he’s tired, having just won Indian Wells– and his section of the 2023 Miami Open draw is loaded. After a bye and an easy opener, Alcaraz could potentially face never-say-die Andy Murray, serve-and-volley specialist Maxime Cressey or energizer bunny Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Also in this quarter for Alcaraz: Tommy Paul, Taylor Fritz and Holger Rune. Let’s see what Charlie has left in the tank.

Last year’s other finalist Casper Ruud headlines the adjacent quarter, with Jannik Sinner and Andrey Rublev also in the mix. Alexander Zverev, who’s regaining confidence with each match, could also contend. Sinner has played solidly this season, winning a title and losing only to Alcaraz in the semis of Indian Wells. He would’ve played well in Miami last year had he not battled blisters. I favor him slightly over Ruud, who’s off to a bumpy start in 2023.

In the other half, former Miami Open champion Hubert Hurkacz could face American upstart Ben Shelton in the 3rd round, which would be a clash of monster servers. I need that to happen. Methinks Hurkacz would not like returning against the lefty, but Hubie’s a fantastic returner, so let’s see. Daniil Medvedev is the top seed in that quarter. I’m disappointed about his complaints with the slowness of the courts at Indian Wells. C’mon man. (You’ll notice he made the finals.) I’ll be interested to see if the Miami courts are to Meddy’s liking. The heat and humidity can amplify the serve, so I bet he likes it better.

The final quarter features Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Francis Tiafoe. The American Tiafoe is almost there. He gave Medvedev a run at Indian Wells. He’s feeling his forehand. Big Foe has a shot to come through this quarter to take advantage of a subpar Tsitsipas. Stef may already be looking ahead to clay, his favorite surface.

My Players To Watch:
QF: Alcaraz, Sinner, Shelton, Tiafoe
SF: Sinner, Tiafoe
F: Sinner


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