The quarter-finals in the bottom half of the draw on Thursday feature No. 6 Kei Nishikori, No. 12 Milos Raonic, No. 16 Gael Monfils and No. 24 seed Nick Kyrgios, who is the highest-ranked among the Next Generation players on the ATP World Tour. Monfils and Kyrgios are appearing in the quarter-finals for the first time. A double digit seed is guaranteed to reach the semi-finals here for the seventh straight year. The lone remaining player of the foursome to reach Sunday’s final will be attempting to capture a maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown.
In the second match on Stadium, No. 6 Nishikori and No. 16 Monfils square off for the second time. Nishikori won the previous meeting 61 36 63 on grass in the 2R of Halle in 2014. Nishikori is appearing in the Miami QF for the third straight year and two years ago he advanced to the SF. Monfils is making his first QF showing in Miami and he comes in with a 15-4 record on the season. He is trying to defeat a Top 10 opponent for the first time since April last year at ATP Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo where he beat No. 2 Federer in the 3R en route to SF. He is 27-60 lifetime against Top 10 foes. He is 4-6 in ATP Masters 1000 QF matches and his last SF came in 2015 Monte-Carlo.
In the evening match, No. 12 Raonic and No. 24 Kyrgios meet for the fourth time (Raonic leads 2-1) and this is their first meeting on hard courts. The Canadian won the first two meetings in 2014 at Roland Garros 1R and Wimbledon QF before the Aussie won last year’s 3R encounter at Wimbledon in four sets. Both players have yet to drop a set in three rounds and Raonic has held serve all 30 games, saving 11 break pts. He also leads the tournament in aces (36) followed by Kyrgios (34) and Monfils (31). Raonic, who is off to a career-best 17-2 start, will return to the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since Oct. 26, 2015 if he reaches the SF and neither Goffin or Monfils win the title. Kyrgios, who is making his ATP Masters 1000 QF debut, is the first Australian to reach the Miami QF since Lleyton Hewitt advanced to the SF in 2002 (l. to Federer). If the 20-year-old reaches the SF, he will crack the Top 20 in the Emirates ATP Rankings next Monday. He would be the youngest in the Top 20 since Marin Cilic on Sept. 21, 2009.