The beginning of the 2022 ATP Season has provided up many thrilling developments. We’ve seen maiden ATP titles gained. Kokkinakis gained in his hometown of Adelaide, Auger-Aliassime together with his victory in Rotterdam, and Bublik gained Montpellier.
We’ve witnessed one of many extra gorgeous doubles runs in current (or not-so-recent) reminiscence by Kokkinakis and Kyrgios through which they gained the Australian Open Males’s Doubles title as a wildcard crew, operating via the attract magical style and leaving a number of of their fellow countryman bitter alongside the best way (see right here and right here).
We’ve witnessed Nadal’s white-hot begin to the season (he’s 20-1 to date), which, until you predicted Djokovic’s steady absence, I feel some have discovered to be fairly sudden.
And, most not too long ago, we’ve seen Fritz win Indian Wells, an amazing feat for an American contemplating Fritz was three years outdated when an American final gained the event (Agassi did it in 2001).
All of this leads us as much as the second Masters 1000 event for the ATP season: the 2022 Miami Open, which begins in the present day.
This would be the third yr because the event has moved from the extra sequestered and drained but homey and adored Key Biscayne venue to the large Exhausting Rock Stadium, the identical 65,000 individual venue primarily used as residence base for the Miami Dolphins NFL crew.
Final yr’s occasion yielded an sudden final result: twenty sixth seeded Hubert Hurkacz defeated twenty first seeded Jannik Sinner within the ultimate. The match represented the primary time that both participant had reached the ultimate of a Masters 1000 occasion and acted as a catalyst for the most effective yr of their careers to this point.
This provides up the query: what does this yr’s Miami Open have in retailer for us? What’s going to percolating storylines proceed to unfold? Which new tales would possibly start to bloom?
Under, we share our lingering questions because the event begins.
Will The Miami Open, Like This 12 months’s Indian Wells, Be A Marker Of Constructive Developments For American Males’s Tennis?
As Djokovic continues to drop out of occasions, and Nadal introduced a stress fracture in his rib, sidelining him for 4-6 weeks, there continues to be a rising void of dominance in males’s tennis. A void that, simply days in the past, we noticed Fritz exploit as he captured the most important title of his profession.
Fritz’s win overshadowed a number of moments in Indian Wells that sparked hope for American males’s tennis. Let’s evaluate.
Tommy Paul took down Zverev in a 3rd set breaker within the second spherical with an exhilarating ultimate match level.
Jenson Brooksy routed Khachanov earlier than then, convincingly defeated Tsitsipas in three units (Brooksby in the end fell to Cameron Norrie, the defending champion).
Each Sebastian Korda and Jack Sock misplaced disappointing third set matches to Nadal and Tsitsipas, respectively, through which they’d substantial alternatives to win the match.
These knowledge factors sign a promising 2022 for American males’s tennis. On the very least, noise might be made extra so than what transpired in 2021.
Will the momentum proceed for the People in Miami? When a participant wins a breakthrough title the best way Fritz did, the chance of seeing a hangover efficiency in Miami is perhaps excessive.
I’m not assured we’ll see back-to-back deep runs from him, however there is perhaps hope elsewhere among the many American males.
In Miami’s context, Reilly Opelka has a chance. His displaying at Indian Wells was robust, taking out Denis Shapovalov earlier than falling to Nadal in an in depth two-set match. I like Opelka to advance over Monfils earlier than a difficult assembly with Berrettini.
The draw additionally poses one other opening for Brooksby to make a run. With the best way he dispatched Tsitsipas at Indian Wells, there’s no purpose why he can’t march via Basilashvili and Bautista-Agut on his method to a possible duel with Medvedev.
And, as at all times, former Miami Open champion John Isner can transfer his method via the bracket.
Is The Doubles Aspect Of The Recreation Having A Tennis Second?
Kyrgios says his antics are good for tennis. After witnessing the Kyrgios-Kokkinakis run on the Australian Open, it’s arduous to argue towards the concept that Kyrgios doesn’t have a constructive impact particularly on tennis viewership.
To supply one attention-grabbing knowledge level, the YouTube views for the highlights of the Australian Open Males’s Doubles Closing (Kyrgios-Kokkinakis vs Purcell-Ebden) have been practically double that of the views of the highlights for one of many quarterfinal matches between Sinner and Tsitsipas (412K views in contrast 214K views).
I haven’t seen the numbers, however I’d enterprise to wager that there are few gamers on the market proper now that might generate viewership for Doubles within the style that Kyrgios has orchestrated.
The enjoyable carried over into Indian Wells because the Kyrgios-Kokkinakis pair gained their first spherical earlier than falling in a blockbuster face off to Sock-Isner, one other crew comprised of traditionally singles-first gamers.
Sock-Isner then appeared to take a queue from the doubles vitality sparked on the Aussie Open, happening an thrilling run of their very own to seize the Indian Wells title. As soon as once more, this was an instance of the countrymen feeding on the “homecourt” ambiance.
Sock isn’t taking part in doubles in Miami – which is undoubtedly a bummer – however Isner is paired with Hurkacz!
Kyrgios-Kokkinakis are positioned for a second-round conflict with Third-seeded Cabal-Farah. Different groups containing prime singles gamers embody Shapovalov taking part in with Bopanna, Opelka-Sinner, Khachanov-Rublev, and Tsitsipas-Lopez.
I’ll at all times recognize the groups which might be primarily doubles specialists. Nonetheless, I argue that when singles gamers crossover and expertise success on the doubles aspect, the game advantages as a result of, the followers get pleasure from it.
It’s occurring to date in 2022, and I hope this doubles second will get prolonged into the Miami event.
What Are Some Probably Juicy Mid-tournament Matchups?
Let’s get forward of ourselves and picture doable matchups that might depart us rubbing our arms in anticipation. Right here’s a laundry checklist of those that stand out to me:
Alcaraz vs Musetti (Third spherical)
This might require Musetti to take down Cilic, which might be an upset on hardcourts, however I selfishly would like to see a showdown of those two up-and-comers.
Musetti is 2 years older than Alcaraz, however he appears to be two years behind him find his footing on hardcourts. Musetti’s win towards Hurkacz at Rotterdam is his most spectacular hardcourt win of the yr to this point.
The thrill round Alcaraz returned to a excessive at Indian Wells, much like his deep run eventually yr’s US Open. If Alcaraz and Musetti meet, it will be their first conflict, and it’d foretell a post-Huge Three rivalry to get pleasure from for years to return.
Tsitsipas vs De Minaur (Third spherical)
Do you know Tsitsipas is 7-0 all-time towards De Minaur? Maybe that statistic is just a mirrored image of a powerful mismatch between their two video games. However given De Minaur’s grit, I’d wish to suppose he breaks via ultimately. In some unspecified time in the future, that head-to-head document begins to get ridiculous.
Bublik vs Isner (Spherical of 16)
This matchup can be intriguing, particularly contemplating how Bublik beat Zverev at Montpellier.
Bublik, a giant server himself, has demonstrated how the block or chip return can be utilized to neutralize large serves, change from defence to offence, and manifest service breaks.
He did this as part of a profitable technique towards Zverev at Montpellier, difficult Zverev to be extra aggressive and play first-strike tennis. If he meets Isner afterward (Isner should beat Gaston and Norrie), the neutralizing return is perhaps one thing he deploys towards the Isner serve.
Medvedev vs Brooksby (Spherical of 16)
This might be a possible thrilling 4th spherical matchup and can be the primary time the 2 have met.
Might Brooksby’s persistence, craftiness, and off-pace pictures perturb Medvedev, like Dimitrov’s slicing and redirecting did in final yr’s Indian Wells? I’d like to see which method this one goes.
Medvedev has by no means made it previous the quarterfinals at Miami, and he’ll have a great problem getting there within the first place if he runs into Brooksby.
Who Will Emerge In The Absence Of The Huge Three?
Simply as in 2021, we’ve got a Miami Open with out Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic. So, who will step as much as win all of it?
Vegas and the consultants are fading Medvedev and Zverev. That feels about proper contemplating their showings at Indian Wells and Medvedev’s historical past on the Miami occasion.
Within the backside half of the draw, I like Berrettini to indicate up in a giant method and win the entire thing. He’ll have to beat Opelka (he’s 0-1 towards him), however Berrettini has been some of the constant arduous court docket gamers throughout the final 12 to 18 months. I feel his displaying on the Australian Open earlier this yr was a fortuitous signal for 2022.
On the highest half, I like Auger-Aliassime or Brooksby. I’ll take Felix. He had an early exit at Indian Wells, however maybe that bodes properly; his physique is rested, and he’s nonetheless carrying momentum from success discovered on the hardcourts this yr.