Despite a number of big names pulling out before the tournament, the ATP Miami Open still promises to be a hugely exciting event. With the absence of the Big Three and Dominic Thiem, it’s a fantastic opportunity for a handful of players to put their hands up and claim their first Masters 1000. As the first day of Miami is upon us, we take a look at some first round matches and predict who will be moving further in the tournament.
We are also predicting the rest of Wednesday’s matches, across three other articles. One article features Mackenzie McDonald vs Vasek Pospisil, the second headlines Carlos Alcaraz vs Emil Ruusuvuori, and the third features Frances Tiafoe vs Stefano Travaglia.
ATP Miami Day 1 Predictions
Thanasi Kokkinakis vs Shintaro Mochizuki
Head-to-head: First meeting
Kokkinakis is the clear favorite heading into this one. 17-year-old qualifier Mochizuki is currently ranked World #654 and has played only match on the ATP Tour, and is up against an immensely talented player in Kokkinakis. Kokkinakis’ most famous win came in Miami in 2018 when he took down Roger Federer, and he will be hoping to emulate the levels he reached that year as he steps out on court this week.
Kokkinakis is getting back to where he should have been before his injuries, and this should be fairly comfortable for the young Aussie.
Prediction: Kokkinakis in 2
Editor’s Note: After publication of this article, the order of play was revised and this match was moved to Thursday.
Steve Johnson vs Yannick Hanfmann
Head-to-head: First meeting
Steve Johnson will go into this match as the favorite. Johnson, a former top 30 player, returned to tennis last week for his first event since October last year, so he may still be feeling fairly rusty. Despite this, he is still a powerful player with plenty of capability of outhitting many quality opponents. Hanfmann often plays on the challenger tour, so this will be a difficult task for him. However, given he’s had far more match practice than Johnson lately, he will no doubt give him a challenge.
This will be a tight occasion, but Johnson’s power and experience should be enough to get the job done.
Prediction: Johnson in 3
Jiri Vesely vs Laslo Djere
Head-to-head: Vesely 1 – 1 Djere
This will be another tight affair. Djere won their only official encounter on the ATP Tour in Sardinia last year, but Veselý did win a Challenger match between the two back in 2015. Both players have won two titles on tour and have produced some excellent tennis over the years. Veselý has been rather short of match practice this year so it’s tough to tell what kind of form he’s in, especially as he’s proved to be incredibly dangerous throughout his career. Djere has been playing far more regularly though, and plays a more consistent brand of tennis than Veselý.
This match will produce some wonderful tennis from both players and could certainly go either way, but Djere’s consistency and recent match practice should be the deciding factor in the end.
Prediction: Djere in 3
Cameron Norrie vs Yoshihito Nishioka
Head-to-head: Norrie 1 – 1 Nishioka
This will no doubt be an intriguing battle between two left handers with similar playing styles. Their two meetings so far show that it’s evenly poised between the pair and it could go either way. Norrie’s recent form has been good, with notable wins against Fabio Fognini and Nikoloz Basilashvili in recent weeks. Norrie is no doubt playing some of the best tennis of his career recently, and will be looking for a good run here.
Nishioka’s form hasn’t been as good, and he’s struggled to get some consistent wins under his belt. Despite this, Nishioka is still a brilliant player and will be up for the occasion. This match will be a close one, but Norrie’s form suggests he will be the one to run away with it in the end.
Prediction: Norrie in 3
Main Photo from Getty.