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Miami Open: Five ATP players to watch

Carlos Alcaraz returned to world number one spot after last week's victory at Indian Wells and the Spanish teenage sensation is out to complete the Sunshine Double in Miami, a tournament which he won last year.

Victory in Miami last season was the big breakthrough for Alcaraz and he has gone from strength to strength ever since, adding five more titles, including two Masters 1000 events and a maiden Grand Slam success at the US Open.

With Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal notable absentees, the 19-year-old is a worthy favourite to follow up his recent win in California.

Daniil Medvedev, his victim in Sunday's Indian Wells Masters final, has already won three titles this year and will be seeking some revenge.

However, the Russian may have had a tougher time with the draw as Stefanos Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Cameron Norrie, Frances Tiafoe and Hubert Hurkacz are also housed alongside him in the bottom half.

Alcaraz seeking successful title defence

Aged just 18 and seeded 14th, Alcaraz lived up to his glowing reputation to win last year's Miami Open, which at the time was the headline victory of his career.

Since then, the Spaniard has taken his game to new heights and is now world number one and a Grand Slam champion.

In theory, being top seed means his route to the final is far easier than 12 months ago and he should return to Miami glowing with confidence.

Having been forced to miss January through injury, Alcaraz returned to action by claiming a clay-court title in Buenos Aires and followed that up with a runner-up effort in Rio De Janeiro.

The 19-year-old showed his versatility with a hard-court triumph at Indian Wells last time out, meaning he has won 14 of his 15 matches in 2023.

Not only did Alcaraz breeze past Medvedev 6-3 6-2 in that recent final, but he won his other five matches in straight sets, also taking care of Janiik Sinner and Felix Auger-Aliassime.

His toughest test before the quarter-final would be against Tommy Paul while his likely last-eight opponent is either Holger Rune or Taylor Fritz, neither of whom should truly trouble him on current form.

Medvedev bidding to go one better

Medvedev was no match for Alcaraz at Indian Wells last week, but the Russian has already secured three hard-court titles in 2023 so is evidently performing well.

The Moscow man is a former US Open champion and a three-time Grand Slam runner-up, showing he thrives for the big occasion, and would still be one of Alcaraz's fiercest competitors in Miami.

The problem for Medvedev is that he has been kept busy so far this year and could be vulnerable to someone fresher, while he has also failed to go beyond the quarter-final stage in Miami in four previous attempts.

It is tough to see how the fourth seed can go one better than in California.

Consistent Sinner edging closer to big win

In recent seasons, Jannik Sinner has proven to be one of the most consistent performers on the ATP Tour and the impressive Italian is sure to go well again in Miami.

Sinner was a semi-finalist at Indian Wells most recently, losing 7-6 6-3 to Alcaraz, and he looked to be in good form in Miami last year before being forced to retire during his quarter-final clash with Francisco Cerundolo.

The 21-year-old has tasted success seven times on the ATP Tour and made the quarter-final in three of the four Grand Slam events last year, suggesting he is edging closer to a breakthrough success.

Sinner finished runner-up in this event two years ago but may have to play Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud and Alcaraz before reaching the final this time around.

Hurkacz returning to happy hunting ground

Miami has been a happy hunting ground for Hurkacz and the 2021 champion should be hopeful of another positive showing at the Hard Rock Stadium.

Hurkacz is a six-time winner on the ATP Tour but his victory in Miami two years ago is without doubt his biggest achievement of his career to date.

The Pole held his nerve to defeat Sinner in the final and then went on to reach the semi-final in his title defence last year, losing 7-6 7-6 to eventual champion Alcaraz to show it is a venue that clearly plays to his strengths.

Hurkacz was unable to perform to his best at Indian Wells more recently but did claim some silverware in Marseille at the end of February.

The 26-year-old could meet Medvedev in the quarter-finals, but he defeated the Russian at that hurdle in Miami last year.

Classy Canadian should not be overlooked

With Tsitsipas looking below his best and a busy schedule potentially catching up with Medvedev, Auger-Aliassime is one to consider in the bottom half of the draw.

The Montreal man enjoyed a stellar 2022, claiming four titles, and a quarter-final run at Indian Wells last time out highlights his capabilities.

He had defeated two top performers in Cerundolo and Paul before bumping into Alcaraz, but would avoid the Spaniard until a potential title decider in this one.

The Canadian was also a semi-finalist in Miami as a teenager in 2019 and is a far more complete player now.

Auger-Aliassime is capable of challenging for Grand Slam silverware in the near future and could have a chance for glory in Miami.

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