Our First Round accumulator containing Lehecka 2-0, Daniel, Nakashima and Fucsovics 2-0 came in at odds of 3.81/1! Let’s hope for more of the same in the Second Round, where the top 32 seeds begin their campaigns.
Garin to beat Baez 1/2
Cristian Garin has a great week in Indian Wells: coming through qualifying and beating Galan, Nishioka and Ruud to make the Fourth Round. He has qualified again for Miami and had a good win over Giron in the First Round. Whilst Garin is best on the clay, he has shown in the last few weeks that he can play on other surfaces too, and he made the Wimbledon Quarter Finals last year. The same cannot be said for Sebastian Baez, who has struggled on hard in the last 12 months, winning just two matches since the 2022 Australian Open on the surface. He did beat Hijikata last week, before getting hammered 6-1 6-2 by Fritz. The Argentinian’s game does not transfer well onto hard because, like I said with Coria in my previous article, he does not have weapons to put opponents under pressure. Garin on the other hand does have a decent serve and is good at putting the ball away on his forehand. The ability for him to get cheap points plus his very good form makes him the firm favourite here.
Lehecka to beat Musetti 1/2
Jiri Lehecka maintained his good form with a routine win over Coria in the First Round. He will fancy his chances of taking out the seeded Lorenzo Musetti here. The Italian has beaten just one top 100 opponent this year (Cachin in Buenos Aires) and has struggled for consistency. Given that conditions here are quicker than in Indian Wells, Lehecka will not give him any time to settle and will rush his groundstrokes that have big back swings. Lehecka’s movement will also force Musetti to take risks, which at the moment are not paying off for him. Musetti’s best tennis is more than capable of beating Lehecka, but the Czech has been playing a brilliant level so far this year and I expect this to continue.
de Minaur to beat Halys 1/3
Alex de Minaur has had a good start to the year, making the second week of the Australian Open and beating Rune and Paul to win the title in Acapulco. He will be grateful for the quicker conditions in Miami, as he struggled last week in a Second Round loss to Fucsovics. The Aussie has always done better in faster conditions, due to the fact that he can wrong foot opponents and use their pace against them. His serve has also improved in the last year. Halys’ has had an up and down year: pushing Djokovic close in Adelaide and beating the likes of Davidovich Fokina, Shelton and Ruusuvuori, but suffering some disappointing losses . However, due to de Minaur’s amazing foot speed he will have to work hard to finish points off, and the Frenchman can often be erratic and the conditions, whilst being faster than Indian Wells, are still not lightning quick. I just think de Minaur will be too consistent for Halys, and should advance here.
Shelton to beat Mannarino 8/15
Ben Shelton has won a lot of matches in recent months: he finished 2022 with 3 consecutive Challenger titles, and then made an Australian Open Quarter Final appearance. He got a win in Indian Wells over Fognini before losing to Fritz in three sets, but not without giving him a serious scare. Adrian Mannarino is a hard player to read, but he beat two out of form players in Thiem and Musetti in Indian Wells before being beaten by Sinner, and recovered from losing the first set 6-1 to Shang to advance in Miami. However, the talented Frenchman has always had his best results on fast surfaces, such as the Australian Open and Wimbledon. He struggles to generate his own power, and so needs the court to help him in that regard. These Miami courts are not slow but they are not fast either. Shelton is more than capable of generating his own pace, and does so well, using that lefty forehand to good effect. Furthermore, Mannarino doesn’t have a great serve, whereas Shelton’s as rapidly becoming one of the most difficult to return on tour, not only due to the speed but also the amount of spin he can generate with his top spin serve. The fact that it is lefty versus lefty makes this a bit harder to call, but due to Shelton’s recent rapid rise up the rankings, so much so that he is now seeded for this event, makes him the favourite, as well as his ability to generate his own power and put Mannarino under pressure.