Medvedev leads rising men’s stars in Miami

  • Matt Trollope

New world No.2 Daniil Medvedev headlines a Miami Open men’s draw which takes on a decidedly ‘Next Gen’ feel in 2021.

The top seed from Russia is joined by fellow top-four seeds Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev this fortnight at Hard Rock Stadium.

All are aged 25 and under; all have shown excellent early-season form; and all have an opportunity to seize a prestigious ATP Masters 1000 title. 

Their chances have undoubtedly improved following the withdrawal of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. Fourth-ranked Dominic Thiem is also absent, meaning four of the world’s top six men will not compete.

“It is an opportunity (in Miami), I won't lie. I would be thrilled to walk away with a Masters 1000 title. I really want it a lot. The desire is there. It has always been.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas

This opens up the draw for other young seeded stars in Florida, including Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix-Auger Aliassime – seeded sixth and 11th respectively – and Australia’s No.15 seed Alex de Minaur. 

DRAW: Miami Open men's singles

For Medvedev, the Miami Open represents a shot at a fourth Masters trophy and the chance to solidify his lofty position in the rankings. 

“Definitely being the top seed first time in a Masters event, especially one like this in Miami, being No.2 in the world, I'm enjoying the moment,” he revealed ahead of his opening-round clash with Yen-Hsun Lu.

“I don't feel the pressure except for the pressure that I like to win matches and I want to win every tournament I play. This I had since I was young. But I feel like it's a good, competitive pressure.

“(I don’t) really feel pressure from the outside because I know what I have to do. I know if I play good, I have my chances to win the tournament.”

Medvedev, who reached the Australian Open 2021 final, has built a stunning 14-2 win-loss record this season and arrives in Miami on a four-match winning streak after collecting the ATP title in Marseille. 

He features in the top half of the draw with the similarly in-form Zverev, an AO quarterfinalist who won last week’s ATP 500 hard-court tournament in Acapulco. 

Beginning with his run to the US Open final in 2020, Zverev has won 31 of his past 40 matches. And he believes he is playing even better than he was during that first ever run to a major final in New York.

“In a way this year I feel like I'm more motivated than ever to do well,” said Zverev, the third seed in Miami who opens against Finn Emil Ruusuvuori in round two.

“I'm trying to improve every single aspect of the game to give myself the best chance that I can have. I feel like I'm building towards that. 

“I think I'm playing pretty decent tennis right now. I hope I can continue to be competing for big titles, big events, in the upcoming weeks.”

Opportunity awaits

Zverev, like Medvedev, is aiming for a fourth ATP Masters 1000 crown.

The man he beat in the Acapulco final, Tsitsipas, seeks his first.

Tsitsipas, the second seed in Miami this fortnight, has built an impressive 14-4 record so far in 2021, stunning Nadal en route to the Australian Open semifinals before reaching the same stage in Rotterdam.

F_Nadal-Tsitsipas_Day 10_17022021_02
Stefanos Tsitsipas (L), who recovered from two sets down to beat Rafael Nadal (R) in the AO 2021 quarterfinals, has reached two career ATP Masters 1000 finals: Toronto (2018) and Madrid (2019)

That loss to Zverev in Acapulco shook the ultra-competitive Greek. Yet he said he could see the positives from his week on the Mexican coast, and would take them into the Miami fortnight.

“I think I can only learn from it. It is something that I cannot go back and fix, so I might as well just embrace it and move on stronger and take that as an example, as a lesson that I wouldn't want to happen again,” said Tsitsipas, who could face former top-five players Kevin Anderson and Kei Nishikori in his first two matches.

“Nevertheless, it was a week to remember, a good start of the season I would say. I'm looking forward for more moments and more feelings like this.

“It is an opportunity (in Miami), I won't lie. I would be thrilled to walk away with a Masters 1000 title. The opportunity hasn't presented itself, but I feel like I'm getting really close. 

“I really want it a lot. The desire is there. It has always been.”

Rublev to keep rolling?

Tsitsipas has landed in the same half of the draw as No.4 seed Andrey Rublev, who has won more matches (16) than any other player on the ATP Tour in 2021.

Although the 23-year-old Russian has been dominant at ATP 500 level – winning titles in Hamburg, St. Petersburg, Vienna and Rotterdam since September – he is yet to translate that form to the Masters sphere.

Having reached just one Masters-level quarterfinal in his career (Cincinnati 2019), this gap in Rublev’s tennis CV serves to boost his motivation in Miami.

“I think I have enough level to go deep on the 1000s,” said the world No.8, an AO 2021 quarterfinalist.

“It's great that I still have so many things to improve, to be a better player, knowing that I'm already playing good. My level for the moment is really consistent. I'm really happy about it. Never happen before to me.

“Because I'm doing well, I start to expect more, I want more. But I really try … to understand that I start to do really well this season. I win a title. The rest I did semifinals. I did quarterfinal in Grand Slam.

“Now here is going to be great challenge for me to see how I can play, how I can compete again.”

After first-round byes, seeded players in the Miami Open men’s draw will begin competing on Friday.