Alexandr Dolgopolov has been in fine form but is also dealing with injury issues as he heads into first-round action in Miami on Thursday. Dolgopolov is facing Malek Jaziri, while Nikoloz Basilashvili is going up against Tommy Robredo.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. Malek Jaziri
Dolgopolov won a title on the clay courts of Buenos Aires last month, but he has retired from matches in two of his last three tournaments heading into the Miami Open. A groin injury forced him out of the Rio de Janeiro quarterfinals and the Indian Wells second round, although not before picking up a combined three victories at those two tournaments. The 67th-ranked Ukrainian is 9-7 this season but a mere 2-5 on hard courts.
Up first for Dolgopolov on Thursday is a first-ever meeting with Jaziri, who is coming off a fourth-round performance in Indian Wells. He ousted Nicolas Mahut, Marcel Granollers, and Taylor Fritz in the California desert before falling to eventual semifinalist Jack Sock 4-6, 7-6(1), 7-5. Already with 10 ATP-level match victories this year, Jaziri registers six spots off his career-high ranking at No. 53 in the world. Based on Jaziri’s current form and Dolgopolov’s questionable health, the Tunisian should have a slight edge.
Pick: Jaziri in 3
Nikoloz Basilashvili vs. (PR) Tommy Robredo
Basilashvili and Robredo will also be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers on Thursday. At 34 years old, Robredo has plunged to No. 438 in the world due to injury-related inactivity. He missed almost all of last season in between February and September before winning a handful of matches on the Challenger circuit. Robredo is 1-3 at the ATP level this season and coming off a 6-1, 7-5 loss to Karen Khachanov in the Indian Wells first round.
The story is a much different one for Basilashvili, who is on the rise at 25 years old and currently six spots behind his career-high mark at No. 59 in the rankings. The Georgian recently finished runner-up on the indoor hard courts of Memphis and he successfully qualified in Indian Wells before losing to fellow qualifier Darian King in the opening round. Basilashvili’s huge-hitting game will likely be too much for a veteran opponent who is still rusty.
Pick: Basilashvili in 3