Medvedev and Osaka the Masters of Miami

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Daniil Medvedev and Naomi Osaka are on the cusp of tennis stardom and can enhance their top-tier status further at a Miami Open lacking big names.

Daniil Medvedev is tough to oppose at this week's Miami Open

The first Masters 1000 tournament of 2021 will not feature Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Dominic Thiem but the sport’s young guns will be out in full force in Florida.

Russian Daniil Medvedev is the favourite to come out on top against the rest of the next generation, with his compatriot Andrey Rublev, Greek talent Stefanos Tsitsipas and German Alex Zverev among those near the top of the outright market.

Medvedev Can Continue Superb Start to 2021

Medvedev has been in irrepressible form since winning last November’s ATP World Tour finals – a tournament in which he beat Djokovic, Diego Schwartzmann and Nadal before overcoming Thiem in the final.

The 25-year-old followed that up with victory in the ATP Cup and a run to the final of the Australian Open, where the only player who could stop him was Melbourne master Djokovic.

He suffered a shock exit at the hand of Dusan Lajovic in the ATP Rotterdam but bounced back to win the Open 13 in Marseille earlier this month and it would be a bold move to oppose the Moscow-born ace.

He avoided Tsitsipas, Rublev and Schwartzmann in his side of the draw with Zverev, who he beat in this year’s ATP Cup, the strongest player in his half. At 9/4 he looks a solid enough bet to win the tournament.

At a bigger price of 33/1, punters may want to consider teenage sensation Jannik Sinner, who also finds himself in arguably the softer side of the draw. The Italian became the youngest French Open quarter-finalist since 2006 last year and he won February’s Adelaide International.

Osaka to Stay on the Winning Trail

The Miami Open women’s tournament goes ahead without eight-times winner Serena Williams, who is recuperating from oral surgery but a strong field is assembled, including defending champion Ashleigh Barty and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka.

Three-time winner Victoria Azarenka will be looking to win the tournament for the first time since 2016, while Sloane Stephens, Johanna Konta and Svetlana Kuznetsova aim to reprise their triumphs of 2018, 2017 and 2006.

Naomi Osaka has been resting up since her triumph at the Australian Open and looks a worthy 7/2 favourite to win the Miami Open for the first time.

The world number two has picked up four Grand Slam titles (two US Opens and two Australian Opens) inside the last three years.

She approaches this year’s tournament with plenty of freshness and the draw has been kind with none of the other top 15 seeds standing in the way of her reaching the quarter-finals.

Reigning Champ on Shaky Ground

Barty’s victory in 2019 – the last time the tournament was held – elevated her to a top-10 ranking for the first time but she looks short odds at 9/1 to defend the title.

The Australian has established herself as one of the top players on the WTA Tour and she went on to win the French Open later that same year. However, after a lengthy period of inactivity, she has had a mixed fortunes over the last six weeks – reaching the quarter-finals at the Australian Open and the last-16 at the Adelaide International.

She looks vulnerable against players of genuine quality and could run into Angelique Kerber or a rejuvenated Azarenka (priced at 80/1 and 25/1) as early as the fourth round.

A decent value alternative to Osaka could be Simona Halep, who looks value at 12/1 given her third seed status.

Halep is the most seasoned of the players in the top half of the draw and progress through her quarter could be made a little easier if fifth seed Elina Svitolina continues to struggle.

The Ukrainian is a 33/1 chance but has not advanced past the last eight at any of her last seven tournaments.

*All odds correct at time of writing

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