Rafael Nadal will kick off his Miami campaign when he goes up against Dudi Sela on Friday afternoon. The second-round schedule also includes Philipp Kohlschreiber and Taylor Fritz.
(5) Rafael Nadal vs. Dudi Sela
Nadal and Sela will be going head-to-head for just the second time in their careers when the two veterans meet in round two of the Miami Open on Friday. Their only previous encounter came two years ago at the Australian Open, where Nadal cruised 6-1, 6-0, 7-5. The seventh-ranked Spaniard reached the Aussie Open final this season, but Roger Federer is the man to blame for the fact that Nadal’s 2017 campaign has merely been “good” as opposed to “great.” Federer outlasted Nadal in five sets Down Under and crushed him 6-2, 6-3 at the Indian Wells Masters last week.
Sela had no trouble earning his spot in this contest, as the 31-year-old Israeli humiliated qualifier Christian Harrison 6-1, 6-1 on Wednesday. Ranked 81st in the world, Sela is a decent 5-7 at the ATP level in 2017 and also captured a Challenger title in Canberra, Australia. As their lone history against each other indicates, this is a nightmarish matchup for Sela–who simply does not have the firepower to give Nadal problems and will be hitting one-handed backhands at or even above shoulder level.
Pick: Nadal in 2 losing 5-7 games
Taylor Fritz vs. (26) Philipp Kohlschreiber
Fritz is finding his form heading into the Miami second round on Friday, and not a moment too soon. With all of his points from his early-season hot streak in 2016 now off the board, the 19-year-old American registers at No. 126 in the rankings (he peaked as high as 53rd last summer). Fritz started 2017 with a 2-4 record through six ATP-level matches but he is coming off a third-round performance in Indian Wells, where he upset Marin Cilic before falling to Malek Jaziri in three sets.
Up next for Fritz is a first-ever battle with Kohlschreiber, who bagged an opening-round bye as the No. 26 seed. Kohlschreiber may have already played his most memorable match in 2017–a quarterfinal loss to Andy Murray in Dubai, where he squandered seven match points, came out on the short end of a 30-minute tiebreaker, and eventually succumbed to the world No. 1 6-7(4), 7-6(18), 6-1. The German advanced to the Indian Wells third round before losing to eventual runner-up Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-3. Kohlschreiber is one of those solid performers who generally takes care of business against lower-ranked opponents but rarely pulls off notable upsets.
Pick: Kohlschreiber in 3