Miami Open 2015 provides opportunity for Junior stars to emerge

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Miami Open Tennis

The Miami Open begins next week as part of back-to-back Masters 1000/Premier Mandatory events following on the back of Indian Wells. The agency IMG owns the tournament which sees the wildcards offered take a different shape to most with few local players recipients. Many of the top young players in the game represented by the company will therefore take part in the event.

Ryan Harrison is the biggest name to get one for the main draw. It will be the fifth occasion in six years that Harrison has received a wildcard despite winning just two matches at the event in that time frame. 20 year-old Brit Kyle Edmund has begun to make an impression on the Challenger Tour at least, winning a title in Hong Kong while most recently making the quarter finals in a strong Irving draw.

At 18, Korea’s Hyeon Chung will make his debut in the main draw. Chung has taken advantage of Challenger events in Asia and Australia to move into the top 130. In February, he made consecutive finals in Burnie and Launceston winning the former before losing in three sets in Launceston to Bjorn Fratangelo.

Junior World No.1 and French Open champion Andrey Rublev rounds off the list. After picking up a number of titles at Futures level, the Russian was a quarter finalist in his first Challenger tournament while also picking up the Doubles title. A win over Dudi Sela in Delray Beach was his first at ATP level but Steve Johnson was a step too far in the following round.

Two of the qualifying wildcards go to junior slam winners in Gianluigi Quinzi (Wimbledon 2013) and Omar Jasika (2014 US Open). Elias Ymer qualified for his first grand slam this year beating the aforementioned Chung while Taro Daniel looks to qualify for his fifth ATP event. He made the quarter finals of Vina Del Mar in 2014 but was a first round loser in the other three attempts. Michael Mmoh is a top 10 junior with wins over Rublev and Jasika last year while also picking up a Futures title in Brownsville, Texas.

The Women’s draw is headed by two notable names in Sorana Cirstea and Nicole Vaidisova. Cirstea has plummeted down the rankings to outside the top 140 from a career high of 21 just over 18 months ago. A two times slam semi finalist in his first career, Vaidisova announced a comeback late last year. She is yet to make much of an impact, her best performance being a semi final of a $100,000 ITF event. Her first WTA level match back was a straight sets loss to Ana Ivanovic as a qualifier in Monterrey.

CiCi Bellis made a name for herself at last year’s US Open with a shock three set win over no.13 Dominika Cibulkova at the age of just 15. Three $25,000 Futures titles show she has had no trouble with moving on up to the next level. She also held the junior no.1 spot but didn’t win a slam in 2014, losing her last attempt at the US Open to Natalia Vikhlyantseva, who is also a main draw wildcard here. The Russian is now inside the top 400 but her best tournament at pro level is only a semi final in a $25k event.

17 year-old Paula Badosa Gibert was a two times quarter finalist in Junior slams last year, contributing to her career high no.8 at that level. The Spaniard’s first attempt at WTA level was a failure to qualify to Antwerp, being defeated by Kateryna Bondarenko. Indy De Vroome had slightly more success in Belgium, qualifying and picking up a shock win over Tsvetana Pironkova in the process. She also troubled Dominika Cibulkova but could not maintain her level throughout in the three set loss.

Canada’s Francoise Abanda is a one time $25k title winner who is currently winless on the WTA Tour. She has competed well against the likes of Sabine Lisicki and Venus Williams while also taking a set from Cibulkova at the Canadian Open.

Laura Robson was supposed to head a list of those with qualifying wildcards but she has chosen to exercise further caution with regards to her comeback. Ranked outside the top 800 in May 2014, Oceane Dodin has risen up the rankings rapidly and showcased her ability with a win in her first Australian Open against Alison Riske while taking a set of Karolina Pliskova in Round 2 looks more impressive by the day.

At 24, Arantxa Rus looks an odd choice given her record in recent time. She is 7-6 at ITF level, with just one match coming at above $25k level. However, two wins in Fed Cup action over Magdalena Rybarikova and Anna Karolina Schmiedlova are impressive. Sachia Vickery has won two $25k events in the US this year while going 3-5 at tour level in the past year, with a 1-1 record in 2015.

Ipek Soylu of Turkey is a Junior Doubles slam champion while also winning seven times at ITF level, taking advantage of the year round events in Turkey and Egypt to rack up titles, although they are all $10,000 level. Hungarian Fanni Stollar was a top 20 junior who has been making her first steps into pro events this year. She was a finalist in Orlando $10k this week but was defeated by an even younger opponent in 14 year-old Claire Liu.

You will be able to check out this year’s Miami tennis predictions Here: Miami Open 2015 Tennis Tips

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