• Nadal awaits either Chardy or Nishikori

    3/24/11 2:47 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Nadal awaits either Chardy or Nishikori Jeremy Chardy and Kei Nishikori will do battle on Thursday for the right to play Rafael Nadal in round two. Feliciano Lopez and Richard Berankis are also set for a tough first-round meeting in Miami.

    Jeremy Chardy vs. Kei Nishikori

    Chardy will be looking for his first victory in an ATP tournament this year when he takes the court in the opening round of the Sony Ericsson Open on Thursday. The 49th-ranked Frenchman is 0-5 in ATP events, but he raised his level for Davis Cup and won a pair of singles rubbers--including the clincher--over Austria's Jurgen Melzer and Martin Fischer. Chardy is coming off a first-round loss to Ryan Harrison at the Indian Wells Masters.

    Up first for Chardy in Miami is Nishikori, who is a solid 8-5 on the season and registers at 62nd in the world. The Japanese sensation reached the Chennai quarterfinals and the Delray Beach semis. Perhaps affected by the earthquake and tsunami in his native land, Nishikori dropped his Indian Wells opener in three sets to Igor Andreev. This could go either way, but Nishikori in three is the pick.

    Feliciano Lopez vs. Richard Berankis

    Lopez and Berankis will be squaring off for the second time in their careers when they go head-to-head in opening-round action on Thursday. Their lone previous encounter came last season in round two of Wimbledon, where Lopez prevailed 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

    Just 20 years old, Berankis is already a different player nine months later. The Lithuanian is 8-6 for his 2011 campaign and is up to 75th in the world, in part thanks to a third-round showing at the Australian Open. Lopez is just 4-8 this year and has not yet won back-to-back matches. The 41st-ranked Spaniard dropped his Indian Wells opener to Julien Benneteau in straight sets. Lopez could turn it around on a faster hard court, but look for Berankis to advance in three.

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Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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