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Popyrin the wrong underdog
Wolf to feast on struggling Bublik
Sinner can go deep again in Miami
Alexei Popyrin to beat Mikael Ymer at +100 at Caesars Sportsbook, FanDuel and bet365
Over 0.5 tie-breaks in Oscar Otte v Brandon Nakashima at +120 at bet365
JJ Wolf to beat Alexander Bublik at -138 at FanDuel and bet365
Jannik Sinner to win ATP Miami at +1100 at DraftKings Sportsbook and bet365
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I’m rather surprised to see Popyrin as the underdog for this contest.
He crushed Ymer 6-2 6-2 only last week in Phoenix, holding serve throughout and forcing no fewer than 17 breakpoints.
Of course, conditions change this week – the drier air of Arizona being replaced by the humidity of Florida. But I’m not convinced that will result in a huge turnaround.
And that’s certainly what’s needed with Ymer having won only 50% of points on his own serve – and just 28% on return.
It is fair to suggest Popyrin’s serve won’t get as much cut-through in Miami, although reports suggest the Laykold court surface is playing quicker than in previous years which may provide a counter-balance to the humidity.
I like the chance of a tie-break here, especially given the Miami courts appear to be playing faster this year.
Both men are decent servers but do little on return – Nakashima has won 17% of return games on hardcourts over the past 12 months, Otte 18%.
Otte’s results have been poor this season but he’s still managed plenty of tie-breaks with four of his eight outdoor hardcourt contests featuring one.
As for Nakashima, he’s played a breaker in three of his six matches so far in 2023.
The market has little between these two but history is very much in Wolf’s favor – both recent and long-term.
The American holds an 8-6 record in 2023 whereas Bublik has struggled, going just 4-11.
As for the head-to-head, Wolf has won both previous meetings – and both came on hardcourts, last year in Florence and in Cincinnati qualifying in 2019. Bublik has had particular problems returning the Wolf serve, while his own second serve has been taken apart, the Kazakh winning just 34% of points on it across the two matches.
Like so many Americans, Wolf often plays his best in his homeland.
On the other side of the net, Bublik is yet to win a completed, tour-level match on outdoor hard in 2023 and lost to qualifier Tung-lin Wu in Indian Wells last week.
Wolf gets the nod at -138 (FanDuel, bet365).
He may have reached the final in Miami 12 months ago but it’s hard to be confident about Casper Ruud doing much right now.
The Norwegian has a losing record so far in 2023 and was well beaten by Cristian Garin in Indian Wells recently.
He looks likely to face Ilya Ivashka first up and that looks like another banana skin.
On the other side, Matteo Berrettini could find trouble against Mackenzie McDonald.
The Italian has struggled with injury issues and certainly hasn’t been winning too often.
He lost so early (to Taro Daniel) in Indian Wells that he was able to play in the strong Phoenix Challenger event but as the top seed in Arizona he lost to Alexander Shevchenko.
McDonald has the ability to strike at what will likely be a decent price.
Jannik Sinner has a strong record in Miami – eight wins, two losses - and looks worth siding with at +1100 with DraftKings Sportsbook and bet365.
The 21-year-old made the final here in 2021 and looked set for a repeat until picking up an injury in last year’s quarter-final.
He’s also in good form having started the year by winning 16 of his first 20 matches. That run included a semi-final appearance in Indian Wells last week where it took eventual champion Carlos Alcaraz to beat him, Sinner being left to reflect on what might have been if he had taken set point in the opener.
Still, Sinner was clearly playing well in California and that record in Miami suggests he’s more than capable of making the transition to different conditions.
He could face Alcaraz in the semis again here but the quicker conditions could work in Sinner’s favor and could prove the difference given there wasn’t a great deal between the pair in that recent meeting.
In terms of his quarter, Sinner looks well drawn – he’s in with the aforementioned Ruud with Andrey Rublev the other higher-seeded player.
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What - ATP Miami Open
Location - Miami, FL, USA
Time - Wednesday, March 22 to Sunday, April 2
How To Watch - Tennis Channel
Andy is a sports journalist of more than 20 years’ experience and is a former betting editor of the UK-based website, Sporting Life. He has specialized in tennis for many years, previewing hundreds of ATP Tour events and reporting from tournaments such as the ATP Finals and Davis Cup final. Andy has also covered numerous other sports, with a particular interest in soccer and cricket.More info on Andy Schooler
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