Kei Nishikori gives a thumbs up to his fans in the stands after defeating Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia, during the Miami Open tennis tournament, Saturday, March 27, 2021, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
- The hot, humid conditions will continue at the Miami Open for the third round, testing fitness and endurance
- Two thirds of the 32 seeds have found success, moving on to the third round
- No. 14 Karen Khachanov and No. 16 Dusan Lajovic are underdogs against unseeded opponents; can they prevail?
The rest of the Miami Open will challenge big hitters to survive the slow courts and tennis balls that fluff so quickly and so substantially, it’s hard to stuff them back into the can after a match.
And even those who bank on endurance might hit the wall, with day after day of steamy, unbearably humid weather.
ATP Miami Open Odds
|Matchup||Odds from DraftKings|
| Daniil Medvedev vs. Alexei Popyrin||-835 / +550|
| Stefanos Tsitsipas vs.  Kei Nishikori||-455 / +340|
| Andrey Rublev vs.  Marton Fucsovics||TBA|
| Denis Shapovalov vs.  Hubert Hurkacz||TBA|
| Roberto Bautista Agut vs.  Jan-Lennard Struff||-275 / +210|
| Félix Auger Aliassime vs.  John Isner||-230 / +180|
| Milos Raonic vs.  Ugo Humbert||TBA|
| Karen Khachanov vs.  Jannik Sinner||+150 / -195|
| Dusan Lajovic vs. Frances Tiafoe||+170 / -215|
| Aslan Karatsev vs. Sebastian Korda||TBA|
| Taylor Fritz vs. Cameron Norrie||-177 / +140|
| Lorenzo Sonego vs. Daniel Elahi Galan||-305 / +235|
| Alexander Bublik vs. James Duckworth||-190 / +150|
|Emil Ruusuvuori vs. Mikael Ymer||-205 / +163|
|Marin Cilic vs. Lorenzo Musetti||TBA|
All odds taken March 27
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Kei Nishikori
The Acapulco finalist’s season has been up and down since his memorable five-set upset win over Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.
Tsitsipas’ routine wins have come mostly against players not in top form, or lacking matches. His other wins have been struggles. He has lost some tough ones.
Meanwhile, Nishikori is showing signs of returning to something resembling his old level. And the longtime Florida resident always enjoyed good success in Miami until his forearm injury.
The only concern is Nishikori’s long, grueling win Friday over Aljaz Bedene. But a withdrawal from the doubles because partner Grigor Dimitrov was ailing gave him extra time to recover.
Nishikori won their only meeting, on his “home court” in Tokyo in 2018, when Tsitsipas was 20.
The conditions suit the Japanese star’s game better. He may well run out of steam, but he will give Tsitsipas a battle.
Best Bet: Tsitsipas in three sets (+295)
Karen Khachanov vs Jannik Sinner
The Russian, seeded No. 14 to Sinner’s No. 21, isn’t playing his best tennis in 2021.
He doesn’t have a single win over a top-15 player since the restart in August.
Sinner is not only the only teenager in the top 30, he’s the only teenager in the top 130 in the ATP Tour rankings.
The two have met twice, both times bringing the drama.
Sinner had Khachanov two sets to none in their first meeting at last year’s US Open, in the first round.
But he couldn’t quite get over the line. In conditions not dissimilar to this week in Miami, he ran out of gas.
Khachanov won it in a fifth-set tiebreak – only the second time in his career he had come back to win after being down 0-2 in sets.
Their most recent meeting came in the semifinals of the small tune-up tournament before the Australian Open in February. Sinner won that 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (4).
Dopo 33 anni torna una finale tutta ITALIANA nel circuito ATP! 🇮🇹🤩
Sinner batte Khachanov e raggiunge Travaglia nell’ultimo atto del Great Ocean Road Open 🇦🇺👏#EurosportTENNIS | #GreatOceanRoadOpen pic.twitter.com/sYEEGM13kb
— Eurosport IT (@Eurosport_IT) February 6, 2021
Sinner saved a match point in that one, and won the tournament.
In these extreme conditions, you’d think Khachanov – older, stronger, more substantial and more experienced – will prevail.
But it won’t be a short one.
Best Bet: Khachanov (+150); in three sets (+450)
Félix Auger-Aliassime vs John Isner
These two have…Miami history.
The last time the tournament was played, in 2019, No. 57 Félix Auger-Aliassime came out of the qualifying and made the semifinals.
Twice in that match, the 18-year-old served for sets against Isner – unsuccessfully. He lost both those sets in tiebreaks.
Auger-Aliassime was so upset with himself that he immediately went out to a far practice court, all alone, and practiced his serve for a significant period of time.
Two years later, Auger-Aliassime is the higher seed. And Isner, now 35, has barely played at all in 2021.
The 6-10 American also had to deal with an upper leg strain during his opening win against countryman Mackenzie McDonald.
As well, the Dunlop balls, which fluff up so quickly (they used Penn in Miami in 2019), will give Auger-Aliassime an extra few split seconds on the return.
Auger-Aliassime continues to have issues serving out sets. But he won’t let this one get away, this time.
He might even relish the challenge.
Best Bet: Auger-Aliassime in two sets (+123)
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Stephanie gets the straight dope from the tennis insiders. On court, she has represented her country internationally. A BA in journalism led to years on the MLB beat and a decade covering tennis globally. She’s written for Postmedia, the Guardian, the New York Times and also publishes OpenCourt.ca.