This article is part of our Tennis Picks series.
The women’s draw at the Miami Open will begin Tuesday, March 21, with men’s action starting up Wednesday, March 22. This will be the second ATP Masters 1000 and third WTA 1000 on the 2023 calendar, sliding in just below the Grand Slams in importance. Miami is the second half of the sunshine double, with the same key players that competed in Indian Wells last week set to get a crack at another 1,000-point hard court event, though some notable absentees remain in both the men’s and women’s draws.
This tournament functionally feels like a Grand Slam, as both the men and women will be playing a grueling seven-round schedule on the hard courts of Miami. The 32 seeds in both draws get byes directly into the second round, though, so the Miami Open draws are 96 players each rather than the 128 we see at Grand Slams. Additionally, all matches will be best-of-three sets, which is par for the course in the WTA game but different from the best-of-five format in men’s Grand Slams.
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic was unable to gain entry to the United States due to COVID vaccine-related entry restrictions, and just like in Indian Wells, he will be joined on the sidelines by fellow all-time great Rafael Nadal (hip). All of Nick Kyrgios (knee), Marin Cilic (knee), Sebastian Korda (wrist), David Goffin (knee) and Jenson Brooksby (illness) also remain out after missing Indian Wells. Pablo Carreno Busta (elbow) and Jack Draper (abdomen) pulled out of Indian Wells and will now miss Miami as well. In the women’s draw, Qinwen Zheng (abdomen) will be back in action as the No. 23 seed after sitting out Indian Wells, but former world No.1 Garbine Muguruza (personal) and former No. 2 Anett Kontaveit (back) remain sidelined.
While Miami Open title odds have yet to be revealed on major mobile sportsbooks such as DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, BetMGM and Caesars Sportsbook, you will be able to wager on individual matches, and it’s only a matter of time until Indian Wells futures become available as well. We offer exclusive sign-up bonuses for various sportsbooks, including those that recently launched in Massachusetts.
Miami Open Picks: Men’s Tournament
Carlos Alcaraz – Alcaraz just erased any doubts that he’s the player to beat in any tournament that doesn’t include Djokovic. The 19-year-old Spaniard returned from a hamstring injury to play Indian Wells, and he proceeded to win it without dropping a set to reclaim the No. 1 ranking. Alcaraz showed the size of the gap between himself and the field with a 6-3, 6-2 drubbing of Daniil Medvedev in the final, ending Medvedev’s 19-match winning streak. He’ll be looking to defend the Miami Open title after breaking through for his first Masters 1000 title here in 2022.
In the Mix
Daniil Medvedev – Medvedev didn’t put up much of a fight against Alcaraz in the Indian Wells final, but the Russian’s preceding 19-match win streak came entirely on hard courts and included a straight sets win over Djokovic in Dubai. After repeatedly complaining that the Indian Wells courts were too slow, perhaps Medvedev will find more success in a championship match rematch between himself and Alcaraz on a court that plays more to his liking.
Jannik Sinner – Sinner’s coming off an impressive performance in Indian Wells. He knocked off 2022 Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz en route to the semifinals and was a point away from going up a set against Alcaraz before losing 7-6 (4), 6-3. Sinner had no problem penetrating the slower Indian Wells hard courts with his massive ground strokes, and his best previous Masters 1000 result has come at the Miami Open, as he reached the final in 2021 before losing to Hubert Hurkacz.
Stefanos Tsitsipas – Tsitsipas insisted he wasn’t a title contender at Indian Wells since he’s recovering from a shoulder injury, and that proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as he was far from his best in his first match against Jordan Thompson and crashed out immediately. Seeded No. 2 here, Tsitsipas has a relatively straightforward path to the quarterfinals, where the Australian Open finalist would be the favorite in a hypothetical matchup with No. 5 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. If he’s feeling healthy enough, Tsitsipas should make a deep run.
Hubert Hurkacz – Hurkacz has posted some of his best results here, announcing his presence as a contender on the ATP Tour with a surprise title run in 2021 before losing to eventual champion Alcaraz in the semifinal of the 2022 Miami Open. Seeded No. 8 here, Hurkacz will have to overcome a tough draw to contend in 2023. His potential opponents from the third round forward are Ben Shelton, Cameron Norrie, Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Alcaraz.
Alexander Zverev – Zverev appears to have regained the form that had him hanging around the top three prior to suffering an ankle injury last season. The five-time Masters 1000 tournament champion pushed Medvedev to the limit in the fourth round of Indian Wells before falling 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5. Zverev also got a favorable draw here, as he’s lined up to play struggling No. 3 seed Casper Ruud in the Round of 16. Zverev has to fancy his chances of reaching the quarterfinals, where he would likely face either No. 6 seed Andrey Rublev or the 10th-seeded Sinner.
Taylor Fritz – Fritz remains the top American hope ahead of fellow seeds Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, Maxime Cressy and Shelton, though Fritz tumbled out of the top eight seeds after having the points from his 2022 Indian Wells title replaced by a quarterfinal loss to Sinner. The biggest obstacle between the ninth-seeded Fritz and a potential quarterfinal clash with Alcaraz is No. 7 seed Holger Rune. While the 19-year-old Rune is brimming with talent, he’s still searching for consistency, as evidenced by his 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 loss to Stan Wawrinka at Indian Wells.
Casper Ruud – Ruud reached the final here last year, but that was when he was riding high and reaching heights on hard courts that he may never match again as the next generation of contenders matures. The No. 3 seed has yet to string together consecutive wins in a 4-5 start to 2023, with three of those losses coming against players ranked No. 70 or worse.
Miami Open Picks: Women’s Tournament
Iga Swiatek – Swiatek is the defending Miami Open champion, and while she failed to win the title at the three biggest hard-court tournaments so far in 2023 (Australian Open, Dubai and Indian Wells), the world No. 1 is still the player to beat. Even in what’s been a disappointing start to the year by her standards, Swiatek has 16 straight sets wins among her 20 matches. Elena Rybakina knocked her out at both the Australian Open and Indian Wells, but Swiatek could get a shot at revenge in the quarterfinals here.
In the Mix
Aryna Sabalenka – Swiatek, Sabalenka and Rybakina have established themselves as the three players to beat on the WTA Tour now that the dust has settled following Ashleigh Barty’s abrupt retirement in 2022. These three players have split the four Grand Slams since Barty retired, with Swiatek winning two. Sabalenka beat Rybakina in the Australian Open final, but Rybakina got revenge in the Indian Wells championship match. Based on Sabalenka’s 17-2 record in 2023, she just edges Rybakina on the list of title contenders here.
Elena Rybakina – Rybakina’s riding high after beating both Swiatek and Sabalenka in straight sets to win Indian Wells. The Wimbledon champion will likely have to get through both of them again to win the second leg of the sunshine double, as she could face Swiatek in the quarterfinals and Sabalenka in the final. Rybakina’s seeded 10th here, but she’s firmly in the top three Miami Open title contenders.
Barbora Krejcikova – Krejcikova is the only player to break up the Swiatek-Sabalenka-Rybakina monopoly at the biggest tournaments this year, beating Sabalenka and Swiatek en route to a WTA 1000 title in Dubai last month. Sabalenka got revenge 6-4 in the third set in Indian Wells, but Krejcikova is the only player who has truly demonstrated the ability to go toe to toe with the top three contenders in the women’s game in 2023.
Coco Gauff – Gauff has lacked flashy wins early in 2023, but she’s off to a solid 14-4 start. Having turned 19 years old just last week, the sixth-seeded American still has her best tennis in front of her. Gauff will have to shake off a blowout 6-4, 6-0 loss to Sabalenka in Indian Wells, but the Delray Beach native will have maximum crowd support an hour away in Miami. The earliest Gauff could face any of the top contenders above would be the semifinals.
Caroline Garcia – Garcia has lost 7-5 in the third in each of her last two tournaments, falling to Donna Vekic in the Monterrey Open final and Sorana Cirstea in the Round of 16 at Indian Wells. While she’s far from immune to upset losses, Garcia’s aggressive game can also help her beat anybody on a good day. She won a hard court WTA 1000 tilte in Cincinnati last year, and the No. 5 seed could gain some confidence early if she gets revenge on Cirstea in the second round following a first-round bye.
Donna Vekic – Vekic was a letdown as a potential sleeper in Indian Wells, as her powerful game didn’t translate well to those slower hard courts and she immediately crashed out against Lesia Tsurenko, but perhaps she’ll fare better in Miami. That loss to Tsurenko pumped the brakes on an otherwise strong start to 2023 for the No. 22 seed, as Vekic reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, then beat Garcia in the final of Monterrey. Vekic is 14-3 in 2023, and at least the early loss in her previous tournament ensures that she will be well rested as she looks to bounce back in Miami.
Jessica Pegula – Not only does Pegula continue to fall short against tougher competition in the latter stages of big tournaments, but just getting to those latter stages will be supremely difficult given her unenviable draw. After a first-round bye, the No. 3 seed could be looking at a tricky second-round clash with ascendant teenager Linda Fruhvirtova. Should she get through that, fellow American Danielle Collins would be Pegula’s likely third-round opponent, followed by a potential clash with Victoria Azarenka, who eliminated Pegula in the Australian Open quarterfinals. All that just to reach the quarterfinals, in which Pegula has gone 0-5 in Grand Slams, where the field approximates the group playing in Miami.
Picks to Win the BNP Paribas Open
Like Djokovic at the Australian Open with Alcaraz injured, it’s advantage Alcaraz against the field here with Djokovic absent. He just made it look easy against essentially this same competition in Indian Wells, and Alcaraz is the obvious choice to complete the sweep at the sunshine double and retain his Miami Open crown. If Alcaraz goes down, it could be Sinner’s time to shine, as the 21-year-old Italian was playing at a high level in Indian Wells.
This is probably the least secure Swiatek has felt at the top of the WTA since the conclusion of the 37-match winning streak that propelled her to No. 1 last year. That win streak included the title in Miami, and a repeat effort would help her solidify her spot as the WTA player to beat on hard courts before the start of the clay season, where Swiatek remains head and shoulders above the competition. The women’s game tends to have more variance and surprise Masters 1000 winners, but it’s hard to see anyone other than Swiatek, Sabalenka or Rybakina winning the title here.