Note: All odds in this article come from our partners at the FanDuel Sportsbook. Right now, new FanDuel Sportsbook users can make their first bet risk-free up to $1,000. If your bet loses, the FanDuel Sportsbook will refund you in site credit. New users can sign up for this incredible offer by clicking this link.
After an opening week that produced confusion about rule changes, dramatic finishes, multiple upsets, and above all else, some truly fantastic tennis, it is perhaps slightly anticlimactic to note that three of the Top 4 Men’s seeds, and five of the Top 8 Women’s seeds remain alive heading into the home stretch of the 2021 Miami Open.
Given the staggered start of the event, Tuesday will see the first half of the Women’s Quarterfinal round take place, while the men play out their Round of 16 action.
Top seed and defending Miami Open champion Ashleigh Barty will look to extend her win streak in Miami to double digits, but will face her toughest matchup yet in the always powerful and clearly ready-to-make-the-leap World #7 Aryna Sabalenka. In the nightcap, fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina will attempt to reach the first Miami Open semifinal of her career when she takes on an unseeded but always dangerous Anastasija Sevastova.
The Men’s Round of 16 also includes a plethora of appealing matches from sunrise to sunset. According to the oddsmakers, top seeds Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Andrey Rublev each enter their respective matches as prohibitive favorites. However, to those in search of more enticing odds, the day also features a Top 35 battle between Taylor Fritz (22) and Alexander Bublik (32), a battle of 6’6 big men between Hubert Hurkacz (26) and an in-form Milos Ranoic (12), and a #NextGenATP thriller between Emil Ruusuvuori and Jannik Sinner.
Add in the presence of Men’s and Women’s Doubles Quarterfinals, and it becomes quite clear that Tuesday’s lineup possesses all of the necessary ingredients to provide another thrilling day of tennis in Miami.
With that in mind, here are my favorite plays for the Tuesday matches at the 2021 Miami Open, as well as a small justification for each pick. To learn more about the action in Miami, catch up on everything that has happened in the tennis world, or to start following along with the day-in, day-out happenings on tour, be sure to check out all of the work being done at crackedracquets.com. Also, be sure to tune back on Thursday for another round of Miami/professional tennis picks.
(Small Citation note: Unless otherwise noted, all stats come from tennisabstract.com, truly the best research database for anyone aspiring to wager successfully on pro tennis)
28-year-old Diego Schwartzman currently sits inside the Top 10 of the ATP rankings, and has already won an ATP title in 2021. His opponent tomorrow, 20-year-old Sebastian Korda, just cracked the Top 100 in the rankings for the first time in his career, is playing in his first ever Masters 1000-Level Rd of 16 match, and has never defeated a Top 10 opponent.
Given those facts, you may be wondering why Korda would be only a +130 underdog against Schwartzman today. The answer: over the past 52 weeks, Sebastian Korda has simply been better on hard courts than Schwartzman. Don’t believe me? Here are some numbers to help make the case.
Over his last 52 weeks of play (aka since the ATP Tour resumed competition in August), Sebastian Korda’s gone 29-8 overall, with a 23-7 record in hard court matches. While 12 of those wins came at the ATP Challenger-Level (The tennis equivalent of AAA baseball), Korda’s 11-5 record in ATP-level hard court events includes a run to the ATP-level Delray Beach Final, and victories over Top 30 players in John Isner, Fabio Fognini, and Aslan Karatsev.
Korda has also made 65.8% of his first serves, won 72.1 % of his first serve points/52.3% of his second serve points, and held serve in 82.1% of his service games during that time span. According to Tennis Abstract’s stat leaderboard, those numbers would rank 7th, 26th, 22nd, and 20th amongst Top 50 players on the ATP Tour (and are all better serving metrics than those of Diego Schwartzman).
While Schwartzman’s record of 26-14 over his last 52 weeks came against a tougher level of competition than Korda’s 29-8, Schwartzman’s gone 11-10 in his hard court matches. While 6 of those losses came against Top 10 players, Schwartzman’s career hard court record of 85-73 (.538) significantly trails his win percentage on clay courts (88-63, .583) and reaffirms the fact that hard courts will never be his preferred surface.
In terms of the conditions of Tuesday’s match, the courts in Miami should benefit both players. The slow, high-bouncing nature of the courts certainly help a guy like Schartzman, as he significantly benefits from the physical brand of tennis that these conditions produce. However, the courts also play to Korda’s strengths, as they provide additional kick to his already exceptional serve and afford the 20-year-old an extra split second within rallies to make up for his lack of elite foot speed and track down an opponent’s shot
The longer the match goes, the better it will go for the more physically developed Schwartman. However, if Korda can land a high percentage of his first serves, the borderline five-foot-seven Schwartzman will struggle to return any ball cleanly on these Miami courts. Korda’s groundstrokes are also the more powerful of the two players, and he will look to feast on any second serve Schwartzman offers him.
Schwartzman’s a scrapper and as tough of an out physically as you’ll find in the men’s game. Even if he’s struggling to return Korda’s serve, he’ll find a way to make the youngster uncomfortable throughout the match. Also, the idea of picking a 20-year-old to knock him off feels foolish to even type out.
However, Sebastian Korda is not your average 20-year-old. It’s a matter of when, not if, Korda will ascend to the top of the Men’s game. And pencil me in as someone who thinks Tuesday will be another step in that direction for him.
Bland on surface, bold on substance
The case for Naomi Osaka is simple: She doesn’t lose anymore. She’s won 23 consecutive matches (with each of her victories coming on hard courts), is 3-1 in her career against Sakkari (and has won the last 2 matchups, though both in 3 sets), and is holding serve at a rate higher than prime Serena Williams (86.7% vs. 82.6%).
Sakkari has the foot speed to track down a lot of what Osaka will throw at her, but will also be on her back foot for the duration of the match. Against Osaka, that’s no bueno.
Sara Sorribes Tormo’s record of 28-10 in her last 52 weeks of competition is far superior to Andreescu’s relatively meager 7-2 mark. However, after a year-long absence due to injury, the 2019 US Open champion has seemingly returned to form and looked sensational in her last two victories over Garbine Mugurza and Amanda Anisimova.
After playing no tennis in 2020, Andreescu will certainly be feeling some pain heading into Wednesday’s match. However, having had Tuesday to recover should end up providing Andreescu enough time to recharge her engines for this Wednesday quarterfinal. I also don’t think Sorribes Tormo possesses the sort of weapons needed to hit Andreescu off of her spots. SST will make the match physical, but Andreescu may legitimately break her serve every time. For those reasons, give me Andreescu to advance to the semifinals
Last, but certainly not least, is fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina, who yesterday advanced to the second Miami quarterfinal of her career with a dramatic three-set victory over Petra Kvitova. Her opponent, 30-year-old Anastasija Sevastova, will be looking to advance to her first 1000-level Semifinal since 2018.
Sevastova’s forehand is the biggest weapon on the court, but her 8-10 record over her last 52 weeks pales in comparison to Svitolina’s 22-8 mark. Also, and this is an unquantifiable remark, but outside of her forehand (and maybe backhand slice), I’m not sure Sevastova does anything better on a tennis court than Svitolina.
Parlay the moneylines of the three favorites in Osaka, Andreescu, and Svitolina together, and you get +127 odds. Let’s throw two units on that and enjoy ourselves a fantastic round of Miami Open Quarterfinals.
Though he carries a 9-19 career record against Top 20 opponents, Hubert Hurkacz has gone three-sets in 8 of his last 10, and 14 of his 28 matches against Top 20 guys.
Raonic hasn’t dropped a set yet this week, nor has he been broken on serve. However, the 6’6 Hurkacz has both the wingspan, returning skillset, and requisite big serve needed to disrupt the rhythm of the Canadian Big Man. I believe Raonic ultimately advances, but also think that this is the sort of match that Hurkacz thrives in. For those reasons, let’s throw a unit on him to steal a set today.
Because sometimes I just can’t help myself: Aoyama/Shibahara (-240 over Garcia/Podoroska) + Mattek-Sands/Swiatek (-270 over Kichenok/Ostapenko) – -102, 1 unit to win .94
I’ll be honest: if you’re staying at home to watch/bet on professional doubles on a Tuesday night, you should probably try to find some new hobbies.
Then again, it’s month 13 of a global pandemic, March Madness games will be on anyways, and it does always feel better to have a bit of action spread out across a couple of sports, right? Plus, at this point, do you really have something better to do?!
To hear more about the logic behind these picks, tune into the daily Cracked Racquets Great Shot Podcast: Ace of the Day segment, a series singularly focused on negotiating the many wagering opportunities happening every day in the sport. Also, if you’re interested in hearing recaps of each day’s results or feel inspired to start following tennis more closely, tune into our Cracked Racquets “The Mini-Break Podcast” wherever you listen to your podcasts, or follow @crackedracquets on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Alex Gruskin is the Editor-In-Chief of Cracked Racquets, host of the Cracked Interviews Podcast/Mini-Break Podcast, and host of the “Ace of the Day” segment on the Great Shot Podcast – a Tennis Channel Podcast – which breaks down daily tennis prop bets, picks and parlays.