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Felix, Tsonga Advance In Miami Qualifying

#NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime is one win away from making his debut at the Miami Open presented by Itau. The 18-year-old overcame a sluggish start on Monday to beat Italian Luca Vanni 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Auger-Aliassime, who fell in the first round of qualifying last year to American Mackenzie McDonald, will play 37-year-old Paolo Lorenzi of Italy for a place in the main draw.

The Canadian earned his first Top 10 win last week at the BNP Paribas Open against Greece's #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the third round at the season's first ATP Masters 1000 event.

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McDonald and another seeded American, Reilly Opelka, also advanced. McDonald dismissed Peter Polansky of Canada 7-6(4), 7-5, and Opelka, the third seed, squeaked past Switzerland's Henri Laaksonen 7-6(7), 7-6(3). McDonald will meet 18th seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy, and Opelka will face Spain's Marcel Granollers.

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, on the comeback from knee surgery last April, beat big-serving Czech Lukas Rosol 6-3, 6-4. Tsonga, No. 118 in the ATP Rankings, will next meet six-time ATP Tour titlist Pablo Cuevas. Top seed and Delray Beach champion Radu Albot also advanced, beating Italian Gianluigi Quinzi, who competed in the 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals, 7-6(5), 6-0, and will meet American Mitchell Krueger in the second round.

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/felix-auger-aliassime-tsonga-miami-2019-monday-qualifying

Kyrgios-Nishikori Highlights Potential Clashes To Watch In Miami

After a thrilling first ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the year in Indian Wells, won by Dominic Thiem, the ATP Tour heads to Miami with another 1,000 ATP Ranking points up for grabs for the titlist. ATPTour.com looks at five potential early-round matches to watch:

Kei Nishikori vs. Nick Kyrgios (R3)
At the BNP Paribas Open, there was much anticipation for a potential Novak Djokovic vs. Nick Kyrgios third-round battle. But German Philipp Kohlschreiber defeated them both.

There is another third-round blockbuster on the horizon for Kyrgios. But this time, it could be against sixth seed Kei Nishikori. If both guys advance to the third round, the Aussie will be especially motivated, given that Nishikori has won all four of their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.

“I always find it tough playing him,” Kyrgios said after his most recent loss against Nishikori, at Wimbledon last year.

Kyrgios has one of the best serves on the ATP Tour. And when he is on his game, like when he triumphed at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco, he can take the racquet out of almost anyone’s hands. But Nishikori’s returning skills, speed, and ability to play aggressively could make for a thriller in Miami, three years after he beat Kyrgios in this event’s semi-finals in straight sets.

Novak Djokovic vs. Tomas Berdych (R2)
There might not be a more enticing second-round match than the potential of top seed Novak Djokovic meeting former World No. 4 Tomas Berdych. Less than four years ago, they were both inside the Top 5 of the ATP Rankings at the same time.

Djokovic has won 25 of 28 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Berdych — including all 21 of their matches on hard courts. But the Czech has proven his ability to challenge anyone in the world, owning multiple victories against each member of the ‘Big Four’.

Berdych at his best elicits short replies with his serve and immediately seizes control of rallies with his flat, penetrating groundstrokes. He got off to a quick start in 2019, winning 11 of his first 14 matches.

But Djokovic will be hungry to get back on track after a third-round loss against Kohlschreiber in Indian Wells. Last year, the six-time champion lost his opener in Miami against Benoit Paire. The World No. 1 certainly won’t want to endure deja vu.

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Roger Federer v

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/kyrgios-nishikori-early-round-matches-to-watch-miami-2019

Wawrinka & Federer Could Clash In The Third Round... Again!

Roger Federer could meet compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the third round for the second straight tournament at the Miami Open presented by Itaú. After Federer defeated Wawrinka in straight sets in Indian Wells en route to the final (l. to Thiem), Wawrinka, the 30th seed may get a chance to avenge that loss in the second ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the year.

If the Swiss stars meet, it will be their 26th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (Federer leads 22-3). All three of Wawrinka’s victories have come on clay, at either Roland Garros or a Masters 1000 tournament. But perhaps Federer was a prophet after beating his friend in the California desert.

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"“I think he knows, as well as I, that he's very, very close and it's just a matter of time until he's going to break through again,” Federer said after their Indian Wells match.

Federer will have to get past Aussie Matthew Ebden or a qualifier, and Wawrinka must defeat Serbian Filip Krajinovic or Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert to set the popcorn battle. Federer has won all 12 of his clashes with Wawrinka at hard-court Grand Slams or Masters 1000 events, triumphing on eight of those occasions in straight sets.

Watch Highlights Of Roger & Stan's Indian Wells Clash:

Also in their quarter is sixth seed Kevin Anderson, Rolex Paris Masters champion Karen Khachanov, 13th seed Daniil Medvedev and 2017 Nitto ATP Finals winner Grigor Dimitrov.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is pursuing a record seventh Miami title, will look to get back on track after a surprising third-round loss against German Philipp Kohlschreiber in Indian Wells. Regardless of who he meets in the second round, it will be a familiar foe. Djokovic will play former World No. 4 Tomas Berdych or Aussie Bernard Tomic.

The top seed has won 25 of 28 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Berdych — including all 21 of their matches on hard courts — and all five of his clashes with Tomic. But Berdych owns four victories against World No. 1s, including a triumph in Miami against then-World No. 1 Federer nine years ago.

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The first seeded opponent Djokovic could face is No. 32 seed John Millman, who beat Roger Federer in the fourth round of last year's US Open before Djokovic dismissed him. No. 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who upset Dj

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/federer-could-face-wawrinka-third-round-miami-2019

Federer's Backhand Struggles Clear Way For Thiem

The conversation starts and ends with backhand returns. The rest is just window dressing.

Dominic Thiem defeated Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 to win the the BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday, with backhand returns meaning more to the outcome than any other shot.

In the opening set, with Thiem serving at 0-1, the Austrian directed all 10 serves in the game to Federer’s backhand return, and the Swiss put all 10 back in the court, breaking Thiem on the fourth break point of the game.

Federer also clocked a backhand return winner to break Thiem at 3-4 in the opening set. The stroke was completely dialed in early on, but the longer the match progressed, the more it missed its mark.

Flashback to 2017 when Federer won his fifth title in the desert, and his backhand return was the focal point of his renaissance. After dominating Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-3 in the round of 16 in Indian Wells, Federer said post-match, “I am able to step into the court much easier than I ever have. By coming over my backhand return from the get-go in the point I can start dominating points from the start.”

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Federer 2.0, which originated at the 2017 Australian Open and spilled over to Indian Wells two months later, was born from total commitment to come over the backhand return.

It was the bullseye of his resurgence, but that asset turned into a liability in the second and third sets on Sunday against Thiem as Federer increasingly had to slice the return to make it, providing Them with more time to immediately attack with a powerful Serve +1 groundstroke following his serve.

After making his first 10 backhand returns of the match, Federer missed five for the rest of the first set (18/23), seven in set two (13/20) and six in set three (17/23). Those 18 backhand return errors were the difference makers.

With Federer leading 6-3, 1-1 and having a break point at 30/40, he had an opportunity to put the match to bed. Almost all opponents historically go away against Federer when down a set and break.

Thiem's first serve was always going to go out wide to Federer’s backhand return. In fact, at ATP Masters 1000 matches from 2014-2018 when serving at 30/40, Thiem has gone out wide in the Ad court almost two times out of every three (63%).

Thiem predictably went with his favourite strategy, kicking a heavy 101 mph first serve out wide to the backhand. Two years ago against Nadal, Federer s

Read more: https://www.atptour.com/en/news/federer-thiem-indian-wells-2019-brain-game

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