Denis Shapovalov vs. Viktor Troicki
Seven months after announcing his presence with back-to-back wins over Juan Martin Del Potro and Rafael Nadal en route to the Coupe Rogers semi-finals, Denis Shapovalov will make his Miami Open presented by Itau debut on Thursday. The #NextGenATP Canadian, last year’s winner of the ATP Star Of Tomorrow presented by Emirates award, reached his second ATP World Tour semi-final at the Delray Beach Open (l. to eventual champion Tiafoe) in February. Three of his losses this season have come against Top 15 opponents. The 18-year-old, at No. 46 in the ATP Rankings, fell in the second round in Indian Wells (l. to Cuevas) leading in. Troicki, No. 68 in the ATP Rankings, leads the duo’s FedEx ATP Head2Head series 1-0 after a three-set triumph in Shanghai last year. The Serbian won his sixth straight victory in a five-set match at the Australian Open to start his year (d. Bolt, l. to Kyrgios in 2R). Bosnian 24th seed Damir Dzumhur awaits the winner in round two.
Frances Tiafoe vs. Nicolas Kicker
Coming off a maiden ATP World Tour title last month, #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe will appear in his second Miami main draw. The World No. 63 takes on 25-year-old Argentine Nicolas Kicker for the first time in his opening match. The 20-year-old Tiafoe downed Shapovalov, Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung and his childhood idol Juan Martin Del Potro en route to the Delray Beach Open title before a first-round exit against compatriot Ernest Escobedo in Indian Wells. Kicker defeated No. 26 seed Dzumhur on his way to the third round in Indian Wells before he narrowly went down to No. 7 seed Kevin Anderson. Kicker stands at No. 87 in the ATP Rankings. The winner will take on No. 21 seed Kyle Edmund.
Alex de Minaur vs. Yoshihito Nishioka
The 18-year-old Aussie, Alex de Minaur, made a blistering start to 2018 on home turf with a semi-final run in Brisbane (l. to Harrison) before his first ATP World Tour final in Sydney (l. to Medvedev). For the second time in as many ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, de Minaur won through qualifying to take his place in the main draw. In his Indian Wells campaign leading in, he had his first Masters 1000 win (d. Struff) before falling to eventual champion Del Potro. His 22-year-old opponent Yoshihito Nishioka tore his ACL at the 2017 Miami Open. The Japanese player’s best result this year is a five-set first-round upset of No. 27 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Australian Open. No. 10 seed Tomas Berdych will take on the winner in the second round.
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Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Daniil Medvedev
#NextGenATP 19-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas took a set off No. 5 seed Dominic Thiem in their second-round clash in Indian Wells debut leading in. The No. 70 in the ATP Rankings will square off against 2017 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Daniil Medvedev for the first time in the pair’s Miami debut on Thursday. The 19-year-old Greek reached the quarter-finals in Doha to open his season (l. to Thiem). Earlier this month, he beat No. 6 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber en route to the quarter-finals in Dubai. Medvedev, the World No. 52, started the season in a flurry when he claimed seven straight matches to win his first ATP World Tour title in Sydney (d. de Minaur) as a 21-year-old qualifier. The winner will face No. 4 seed Alexander Zverev.
Thanasi Kokkinakis vs. Calvin Hemery
Continuing his steady climb back from injury, #NextGenATP Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis takes on fellow qualifier Calvin Hemery of France. The 21-year-old Kokkinakis reached his first ATP World Tour final in Los Cabos last season (l. to Querrey) as a 454th-ranked wild card at the time. Now with his ATP Ranking back up to No. 175 he will meet Hemery for the first time. The 23-year-old Frenchman reached an ATP Challenger Tour semi-final (l. to Vatutin) in Quimper, France in January. The reward for the winner is a date with top seed and defending champion Roger Federer.
Denis Istomin vs. Miomir Kecmanovic
ATPWorldTour.com rated Denis Istomin’s second-round win over defending champion Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open as the biggest upset of 2017. The 31-year-old Uzbekistani, No. 85 in the ATP Rankings, has endured a tougher start to 2018 with injuries ending his Brisbane International quarter-final against Ryan Harrison and forcing his withdrawal before his scheduled match against Peter Gojowczyk in Indian Wells leading in. #NextGenATP wild card Miomir Kecmanovic will face Istomin for the first time on Thursday. The 18-year-old Serbian beat Tiafoe in the ATP Challenger Tour event in Newport in January, and counts wins over #NextGenATP American Michael Mmoh, Aussie Jordan Thompson and Spaniard Marcel Granollers in his three respective Challenger tournaments leading in. No. 16 seed Pablo Carreno Busta awaits in the second round.
Nicola Kuhn vs. Darian King
In just his second ATP World Tour main draw event, #NextGenATP Spaniard Nicola Kuhn will take on Darian King of Barbados for the first time. The 18-year-old Kuhn, the son of a German father and a Russian mother, reached the boys’ singles final at Roland Garros last year (l. to Popyrin). King won through qualifying and reached the final of the Indian Wells Challenger (l. to Klizan) prior to the BNP Paribas Open. The winner will meet No. 15 seed Fabio Fognini in round two.