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Sinner Survives Gut-Busting Battle Against Khachanov In Miami

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2021

Karen Khachanov won the early battle against Jannik Sinner on Sunday, but the #NextGenATP star claimed the war.

Sinner outlasted the 14th seed 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 in a gut-busting clash of two hours and 50 minutes to advance to the Round of 16 at the Miami Open presented by Itau. The 19-year-old will play Emil Ruusuvuori or Mikael Ymer for a spot in the quarter-finals.

The 21st seed, who is physically fit, appeared fatigued just a few games into his physical match against Khachanov. There was more than 30 minutes of actions before the players got to the first changeover thanks to the second game, which went to 11 deuces. As Sinner served at 2-2, he even bent over after a point, showing the effects of the gruelling start. 

Sinner was certainly ready go, but the big-hitting rallies point-in and point-out would take a toll on any player’s legs. Although Khachanov lost serve in the epic second game, he recovered better physically to power his way through the opening set.


His teenage opponent was not going to lay down, though. Sinner found a way to grind his way through the second-set tie-break, and in the decider both men raised their level, making few unforced errors. In the end, Sinner, nearly three hours into the marathon, used his legs to gain the critical advantage. 

At 4-4, 40/40, with Khachanov serving, Sinner somehow sprinted up to get to a good half-volley by the Russian and found an incredible angle to earn break point. The Italian converted on the next point and then served out his victory.

That this was an epic was no surprise. Their first two clashes went to final-set tie-breaks, including a five-set win by Khachanov at last year’s US Open. Sinner now leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-1.

Did You Know?
The last time this tournament was held, in March 2019, Sinner was still outside the Top 300 of the FedEx ATP Rankings. Now, the 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion is World No. 31.

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Skupski Wins Battle Of Former Partners In Miami

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2021

Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski ended their 18-month partnership at the conclusion of the 2020 ATP Tour season, but that hasn’t stopped the pair from sharing the court in 2021.

Alongside Daniel Evans, Skupski overcame his former partner and Bruno Soares 5-7, 7-6(4), 10-7 on Sunday to reach the Miami Open presented by Itau quarter-finals. It is the second straight week that Skupski has beaten Murray in a Match Tie-break. The 31-year-old partnered his brother Ken Skupski to a 6-3, 3-6, 12-10 win over Murray and Soares en route to the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC trophy last week.


Evans and Skupski trailed 15/30 on serve at 5-6 in the second set, but they held their nerves to turn the match in their favour and reach the last eight in Miami. The British pair is making its debut in Miami this week.

The unseeded team will meet top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah or Marcelo Arevalo and Horia Tecau for a place in the semi-finals. Cabal and Farah are chasing their first title in Miami, with a runner-up finish in 2014 their best result.

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Medvedev Ready For ‘Tough Match’ Against Practice Partner Popyrin

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2021

So far in 2021, Daniil Medvedev has led Russia to the ATP Cup title, reached his maiden Australian Open final and collected his 10th ATP Tour trophy at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

An interesting common denominator behind those title runs at the ATP Cup and Marseille? Pre-tournament practice sessions with Alexei Popyrin. The pair will meet on Sunday for a place in the Miami Open presented by Itau Round of 16.


During pre-season, Medvedev joined Popyrin for multiple practice sessions. The Russian also connected with the Aussie ahead of his trip to Marseille, where he beat Jannik Sinner and Pierre-Hugues Herbert en route to the title.

Medvedev has got to know his opponent well over the past few months, and he is aware of the threat that Popyrin will pose in Miami. The pre-season training sessions also proved a charm for the 21-year-old, who has compiled an 11-3 record and lifted his maiden ATP Tour title (Singapore) this year.

“He’s a great player. I think [he is] still young, still coming up,” said Medvedev. “Great strokes, great serve. Solid baseline player, but he can go to the net, hit winners from all corners of the court. It’s going to be a tough match. [I am] looking forward to it.”

Daniil Medvedev owns a 15-2 record in 2021.

Knowledge may equal power for Medvedev, but that theory works both ways. Popyrin now has an improved understanding of the task that lies ahead on Grandstand, where he will aim to record the biggest win of his career.

“I know what to expect against him. I practised with him in pre-season, so we know each other pretty well,” said Popyrin. “It will be a tough match. I have never played anyone as high as No. 2 in the world.”

Popyrin will be aiming to earn his first win in the third match of his ATP Head2Head rivalry against the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion. The World No. 86 pushed Medvedev to four sets at Wimbledon in 2019 and fell in straight sets to the Russian at last year’s Australian Open. When asked what the biggest challenge of facing Medvedev was, Popyrin provided an honest assessment.

“I think everything is challenging,” said Popyrin. “He is probably the best passer when you come to the net. He knows what to do when another guy comes to the net, you can’t overplay him from the baseline and he has got a massive serve. He is a great all-around player.”

In the first match of the day on Grandstand, Felix Auger-Aliassime will meet 2018 champion John Isner in a repeat of their 2019 semi-final at this event. On that occasion, Isner raised his level in crucial moments to defeat the 18-year-old 7-6(3), 7-6(4) and reach his second straight Miami final.

Auger-Aliassime, who won seven matches from qualifying en route to that semi-final encounter, will be the higher-ranked player for his second ATP Head2Head clash against the American. The 11th seed earned his 10th win of the season against Herbert to reach the Miami third round. Isner, the 18th seed, was forced to recover from a set down to defeat countryman Mackenzie McDonald 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 in his opening match.

On Court 1, Sinner and Karen Khachanov will meet for the third time in their ATP Head2Head rivalry. Both of their previous meetings went all the way to a final-set tie-break.

At last year’s US Open, Khachanov rallied from two sets down to defeat the #NextGenATP Italian 3-6, 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-0, 7-6(4). Sinner gained his revenge at last month’s Great Ocean Road Open, when he saved a match point to overcome Khachanov 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(4) in a thrilling, three-hour, seven-minute semi-final.

“I practise for having tough matches. I practise for staying in difficult situations. I practise especially for these kinds of matches,” Sinner said. “It’s going to be a tough match for sure for both of us. I know him quite well, he knows me quite well… It’s not going to be easy for us.”

Seventh seed Roberto Bautista Agut and 16th seed Dusan Lajovic will continue their Miami campaigns on Sunday. Bautista Agut will face 31st seed Jan-Lennard Struff in the opening match on Court 1, while Lajovic will close the night session on Grandstand against Frances Tiafoe. Alexander Zverev’s conqueror Emil Ruusuvuori, 22nd seed Taylor Fritz and 32nd Alexander Bublik also feature on the Court 1 schedule.

Watch Live | View TV Schedule


GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
[11] F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs [18] J. Isner (USA)

Not Before 1:00 pm
[1] D. Medvedev (RUS) vs A. Popyrin (AUS)

Not Before 7:00 pm

Not Before 8:30 pm
F. Tiafoe (USA) vs [16] D. Lajovic (SRB)

COURT 1 start 11:00 am
[31] J. Struff (GER) vs [7] R. Bautista Agut (ESP)
[21] J. Sinner (ITA) vs [14] K. Khachanov (RUS)
E. Ruusuvuori (FIN) vs M. Ymer (SWE)
C. Norrie (GBR) vs [22] T. Fritz (USA)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[32] A. Bublik (KAZ) vs J. Duckworth (AUS)

COURT 2 start 12:00 pm
D. Evans (GBR) / N. Skupski (GBR) vs [5] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA)
[4] I. Dodig (CRO) / F. Polasek (SVK) vs F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) / H. Hurkacz (POL)
O. Marach (AUT) / L. Saville (AUS) vs K. Khachanov (RUS) / A. Rublev (RUS)

COURT 5 start 12:00 pm

Not Before 1:30 pm
[8] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) vs M. Kecmanovic (SRB) / A. Qureshi (PAK)
[WC] S. Korda (USA) / M. Mmoh (USA) vs T. Puetz (GER) / A. Zverev (GER)

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Five Things To Know About Popyrin, Medvedev's Next Opponent

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2021

Alexei Popyrin will face a tough challenge on Sunday at the Miami Open presented by Itau, when he plays World No. 2 and top seed Daniil Medvedev in the third round. The Russian star has plenty of respect for the 21-year-old Aussie.

“He’s a great player. I think [he is] still young, still coming up. Great strokes, great serve. Solid baseline player, but he can go to the net, hit winners from all corners of the court,” Medvedev said. “It’s going to be a tough match. Looking forward to it.”

Before they compete at the season’s first ATP Masters 1000 event, looks at five things to know about Popyrin, the 2017 Roland Garros boys’ singles champion. 

He Won His First ATP Tour Title Earlier This Year
Entering the Singapore Tennis Open, Popyrin had only reached one ATP Tour quarter-finals, and that came two years ago in Atlanta. But the Aussie played his best tennis at the ATP 250 to claim his first tour-level crown.

In the semi-finals, Popyrin eliminated former World No. 3 Marin Cilic before finishing his breakthrough run with a comeback victory against Alexander Bublik in the final.

“It feels unbelievable,” said Popyrin. “A lot of sacrifice, a lot of dedication and a lot of hard work went into this from myself, my team and my whole entire family. I have done it for everybody who was involved. I am just so proud that I could actually get it done.”

Alexei Popyrin breaks Alexander Bublik on five occasions to capture the Singapore Tennis Open trophy.

Popyrin First Made His Mark In Melbourne, Where He Has Thrived
The Aussie, then eight years old, was in the stands when countryman Lleyton Hewitt beat Marcos Baghdatis in an epic at the 2008 Australian Open that ended at 4:33 a.m. Little did Popyrin know that 11 years later, he would be the one impressing at Melbourne Park.

As a 19-year-old ranked World No. 149, he reached the third round of the 2019 Australian Open. Popyrin defeated Mischa Zverev and advanced past Dominic Thiem before pushing Lucas Pouille to five sets in a thriller. The Frenchman eventually made the semi-finals that year.

That wasn’t a one-time run for Popyrin, though, as he repeated the feat in 2020 by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Jaume Munar to make the third round. Although the home favourite couldn’t earn a third consecutive third-round finish in Melbourne this year, he saved four match points in a five-set victory against 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin in a first-round victory.

The Aussie Is Thankful For His Family’s Sacrifices
When Popyrin was 12, he was playing Tennis Europe junior events. His family rented a seven-seater that they would travel in for three or four months playing tournaments. The Aussie’s parents, sister, brother and grandmother all packed into the car.

“We would all be in that car and we would just travel from Italy to Slovakia to Slovenia to Spain to France to all these places, all together in that one car,” Popyrin said. “That’s the sacrifice that everybody has made for me. My parents and my whole family have been the most influential people in my life.”

Alexei Is A Damian Lillard Fan, Loves Everton F.C.
If you see Popyrin sporting Portland TrailBlazers gear, don’t be surprised. At 13, he began watching NBA videos on YouTube and grew to enjoy the sport. Damian Lillard, one of the biggest stars in the NBA, has become his favourite player.

“I’m not one of those glory-seekers to find a team that has been winning trophies so easily and have had the best team in the league. I was just trying to find my team and Damian Lillard popped up,” Popyrin said. “He’s become my favourite player and they’ve become my favourite team. I think even if he leaves I’ll still support Portland.”

Popyrin has followed football for virtually his entire life, and he remembers watching the 2006 World Cup, when Tim Cahill played well for Australia. Popyrin became a fan of Cahill’s club team, Everton F.C.

“I wanted to find a team to support and he was my favourite player,” Popyrin said. “I told him that myself and it’s great that we’re in touch because he was one of my idols growing up.”

He Has Lived In Several Countries
Popyrin is Australian, but he has spent time in several countries. He moved with his family to Dubai for two years, where he even served as a ballboy at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Popyrin then moved to Spain in 2010, where he still lives part-time.

Since his late teenage years, Popyrin has trained at the Mouratoglou Academy in France, and he credits Patrick Mouratoglou for helping his development. The Aussie speaks English, Russian and Spanish.

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No Video Games, Plenty Of Old-School Rock For Lorenzo Musetti

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2021

Lorenzo Musetti has been March’s breakthrough star on the ATP Tour, reaching the semi-finals in Acapulco and now advancing to the third round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

But fans have only gotten to know his game on court, highlighted by his crafty one-handed backhand and willingness to mix up spins and shot selection. So what has the teenager been doing off court to stay busy in the tournament bubbles?

“I don’t like so much video games. I never used to play them a lot. Even when I’m at home, I don’t have PlayStation or something,” Musetti said. “I like so much listening to music.”

Many players have travelled with video game consoles during the COVID-19 pandemic. But not the 19-year-old. When Musetti was in Acapulco, he bought a speaker from a member of the tournament’s staff, and that has proven a key entertainment item.

“Here with the football pitch [in Miami], I put the music on and I warm up and I really enjoy [my] time like this,” Musetti said.

When the #NextGenATP star was born in March 2002, Billboard’s Top 100 songs included hits by Jennifer Lopez, Ja Rule, Nickelback and Linkin Park. But the Italian is more old school than his age indicates.

“I like every kind of music. I really like old music from the 80s, from the 90s, also rock music,” Musetti said. “My father was a [fan] of that period of music. When I was a child, in the car, he was always like, ‘Lorenzo, listen to this, listen to this!’ I felt the same passion like him. I really like the 80s and 90s rock music.”

While Musetti and his coach, Simone Tartarini, haven’t done this the past couple weeks, they have sometimes played cards to pass time, since they are only allowed to go between the tournament venue and the hotel.

“It’s not easy to pass the time in the bubble, but we are getting used to it, so it’s fine,” Musetti said. “Usually we play not me against Simone, we play poker, some Italian games. It’s not about winning or losing. It’s just having fun. We win, we lose.”

As you’d expect, the newly minted youngest player in the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings has gotten plenty of congratulatory messages over the past six months. Last September, he qualified for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and reached the third round of the main draw. Last week, Musetti made the semi-finals of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC.

“When you do semi-finals in Acapulco, you receive a lot of text messages,” Musetti said, cracking a laugh. “They take away a lot of moments, and I think sometimes if you don’t know how to manage that, you can be tired the next day because you are always on the phone.

“You don’t have to always be on the phone texting. It’s not easy, but I was doing that with [during my Rome run with] Wawrinka and Nishikori and then with Koepfer, I was really tired. Now in Acapulco, it was better because it was not the first time.”

Musetti is still getting used to all the attention he has received during this torrid stretch. When play resumed last August following a five-month suspension, the teen was World No. 284. Now he is World No. 94 and by the looks of things, Musetti has no plans of slowing his rapid ascent.

One thing is for sure: this #NextGenATP player is enjoying the ride.

“For me in every tournament, there is always a first time. But I’ve always enjoyed it, because you cannot only play tennis and go on court and do whatever you want. It’s really nice also with the fans,” Musetti said. “Now it’s not easy with the fans because this pandemic situation is not easy, but I’m really enjoying doing media things and [things outside] tennis.”

Musetti will try to continue his on-court success on Monday when he plays former World No. 3 Marin Cilic.

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Shapovalov Closing In On Marathon Win

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2021

Denis Shapovalov is six points from surviving a marathon and earning his spot in the third round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

The sixth seed leads Ilya Ivashka 6-7(5), 6-4, 4-3 with a break advantage in the decider. Rain forced the players to leave Butch Bucholz Court with Shapovalov serving at 30/30.

The Canadian has not been at his best, hitting 11 double faults and making unforced errors at untimely moments. But Shapovalov has never stopped battling, putting himself in a winning position after two hours and 58 minutes.

The pivotal moment came at 3-3 in the third set. Ivashka was set to face his second break point of the game when it first began drizzling, leading to a pause of less than 10 minutes. The Belarusian double faulted upon play’s resumption, giving Shapovalov the advantage.

The lefty can became the third Canadian to reach this year’s Miami Open presented by Itau third round. Shapovalov has enjoyed success at Hard Rock Stadium, making the semi-finals here in 2019.

If he closes out his match, the 21-year-old will face Delray Beach champion Hubert Hurkacz in his next match. The Pole served 12 aces en route to a 7-6(5), 6-4 victory over Denis Kudla.

Milos Raonic is a three-time Miami Open presented by Itau quarter-finalist.

Earlier in the day, Milos Raonic overpowered Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-1 to reach the third round. The Canadian won 22 of his 23 first-serve points to improve to 8-1 in second-round matches in Miami.

Raonic has reached the third round in each of the past eight editions of the ATP Masters 1000 event. The 6’5” right-hander’s only second-round defeat in Miami came on his tournament debut in 2011.

“It was a very good match for me,” said Raonic. “To start the tournament like this is very positive. I was much better with my serve than I was at the last tournament. I feel better physically as well, so all those things are trending in a positive way for me. Overall, I have to be happy with that.”


Raonic improved to 15-6 at the Florida tournament. The World No. 19 has reached the quarter-finals in Miami on three occasions (2014, ’16, ’18).

The 30-year-old will face Ugo Humbert in the third round. The Frenchman defeated Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-4 to earn his first win in Miami. Raonic saved two match points to win his only previous ATP Head2Head clash against Humbert at last year’s Rolex Paris Masters.

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Rublev Rolls Past Sandgren In Miami

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2021

Andrey Rublev dropped only three games on his way to the third round at the Miami Open presented by Itau, cruising past against Tennys Sandgren 6-1, 6-2 in a rain-interrupted clash on Saturday

The fourth seed has been one of the world’s most in-form players, and he extended his Tour-leading wins count to 17 on the year after his Miami opener.

Rublev’s controlled aggression was on display from the start on Grandstand at Hard Rock Stadium. The Russian No. 2 took the lead at 3-1 after converting his fourth break point, outlasting Sandgren in a marathon eight-minute game. But he needed just 59 seconds to consolidate to love with powerful first serves, and Rublev didn’t leave any openings for Sandgren as he closed out the opening set.

The fourth seed did not face a break point during the match, and he kept the American under pressure in the second as he created break opportunities in three of his four service games. After taking a 5-2 lead with a double break, Rublev was made to wait to serve out the match as rain halted play in Miami. But he didn’t miss a beat upon resumption, coming back about an hour later to seal the victory after 64 minutes on court.


The victory sends Rublev into the third round, equalling his previous best result in Miami. He awaits the winner of No. 29 seed Marton Fucsovics and Thanasi Kokkinakis with an eye on reaching the fourth round for the first time.

The 23-year-old arrived in South Florida looking to make his mark at the ATP Masters 1000 level, where he has not yet advanced past the quarter-finals. He’s been on song since the start of the season, adding an ATP Cup trophy for Russia and an ATP 500 title in Rotterdam to his cabinet. 

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Ram/Salisbury Make Winning Start In Miami

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2021

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury opened their Miami Open presented by Itau campaign on Saturday with a 6-2, 7-6(5) victory against Austin Krajicek and Franko Skugor.

The seventh seeds won 83 per cent of their first-serve points (30/36) to improve their 2021 record to 8-3. Ram and Salisbury are seeking their first title of the season in Miami. The American-British pair advanced to their second straight Australian Open final last month (l. to Dodig/Polasek).


Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah defeated Nikola Cacic and Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4. The Dubai champions, who saved six of the seven break points they faced, own a 10-4 record this season.

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares claimed a single break in each set to beat Marcus Daniell and Philipp Oswald 6-4, 6-4. The fifth seeds will face British duo Daniel Evans and Neal Skupski in the second round.

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut also advanced on Saturday. The 2016 champions earned a 6-3, 6-2 win against Rohan Bopanna and Benoit Paire on Court 5.

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Korda Topples Fognini For Biggest Career Win

  • Posted: Mar 27, 2021

#NextGenATP American Sebastian Korda scored his first Top 20 victory with a hard-fought 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 turnaround against 10th seed Fabio Fognini at the Miami Open presented by Itau on Saturday.

The 20-year-old struggled to get on the scoreboard in the opening set against Fognini. But he never panicked, and raised his level in the second and third sets to claim his biggest career win over the No. 17-ranked Italian.

Korda was not able to hold serve set as Fognini flew out of the gates firing winners off both wings in the first set. The American struggled to read the variety in Fognini’s game, and the Italian had all the answers to break his serve four times.


But he stayed patient, and was ready to captalise when the inevitable drop in form came in the second set. Korda played more aggressively, and only dropped four points on serve throughout the set to keep Fognini contained. 

After taking an early lead in the third set, Korda was tested again as the Italian powered to four break points at 3-2. But the American responded emphatically, saving all four and sealing the hold with an ace. He broke to love in the next game to make it 5-2, and closed out the victory after an hour and 48 minutes.

Into the third round, Korda will next face fellow Miami debutant Aslan Karatsev, the No. 17 seed. Karatsev defeated Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-3 earlier in the day to advance.

Contesting his first main draw match at an ATP Masters 1000 event, Karatsev broke serve four times and turned around an early deficit to win in an hour and 20 minutes.

“It was a really tough, tight match. To play your first match against Kukushkin is not easy, he’s a tough opponent,” Karatsev said in an on-court interview. “The courts are more slow here compared to last week in Dubai, so you have to adjust. The first match is always tough, but I found a way to beat him.”

Karatsev ended last season at No. 112 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, but he’s burst into the Top 30 after a stunning first three months of 2021. The Russian turned heads when he reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open as a qualifier, and backed it up by winning his first ATP Tour title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

“Of course it gives me confidence to win my first title, but you arrive here and it’s a different surface and new tournament,” Karatsev said. “So you try [to think of it] as a new tournament and new place, but of course it gives me a lot of confidence.”

Karatsev owns a 13-2 record on the season, with his only two losses so far coming at the hands of  Top 4 opponents Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem.

Elsewhere in the Korda and Karatsev section, fifth seed Diego Schwartzman converted his fifth match point to put away Japan’s Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3, 6-3. The Argentina Open champion needed an hour and 22 minutes to book a third-round clash with No. 25 seed Adrian Mannarino, who defeated Miomir Kecmanovic 6-3, 6-4 to advance.

The World No. 9 saved three of the four break points he faced against Uchiyama. He will take a 1-0 ATP Head2Head series lead into his clash against Mannarino. That win came on clay at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open.

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