The Indian Wells final just ended, and we’re already on to the Miami Open! Here’s a preview of the 2nd Premier Mandatory tournament of the year.
First quarter: Headlined by (1) Angelique Kerber and (7) Svetlana Kuznetsova
Angelique Kerber is back to the World No.1 spot, but that doesn’t mean she’s playing good tennis. She has amassed a 9-6 record this year, and if she wants to keep the No.1 ranking for a few more weeks she’ll have to produce a good performance here, as she is defending semifinal points. Her draw isn’t that favourable though. The German will start off her campaign against countrywoman Laura Siegemund or Duan Ying-Ying, and a possible rematch with Daria Kasatkina in the third round. The Russian has already beaten Kerber twice this year. Kerber’s projected quarterfinal opponents can’t get any worser, with the likes of Venus Williams, in-form Kristina Mladenovic, and Indian Wells finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova.
Speaking of Kuznetsova, the 2016 Miami finalist could face Kristyna Pliskova in the second round. Roberta Vinci is projected to meet Kuznetsova in the third round. In the round of 16, either three-time champion Venus Williams or the in-form Kristina Mladenovic, a semi-finalist in the desert potentially looms.
This is a very interesting quarter. Question marks are all around Kerber, on whether she can replicate her 2016 form and play like a No.1 again. Venus seemed bothered by injuries in Indian Wells, and Mladenovic, the newest member of the Top 20 will look to make another charge in Miami. Kuznetsova, who is just flying from Indian Wells to Miami, might be feeling a little fatigue this week. Maybe even Kasatkina, Suarez Navarro and Heather Watson stands a chance to take the semifinal spot.
Quarter-Finalists: Kasatkina, Mladenovic
Second quarter: Headlined by (3) Simona Halep and (8) Madison Keys
Simona Halep hasn’t had a fantastic year so far, and neither is her draw too. She could face Naomi Osaka in the second round, and Ekaterina Makarova in the third. The seeds in this quarter don’t have easy second round opponents – Caroline Garcia could face Indian Wells quarterfinalist Peng Shuai, Johanna Konta could meet Alizé Cornet, and Timea Babos could face Pauline Parmentier, who pushed Kerber to three sets last week.
Madison Keys, who opened her 2017 campaign just last week, could stand a chance to go far in the draw. Her opponents in the first two rounds should be manageable, but in the round of 16 she could face Johanna Konta. That would be a firecracker.
Quarter-Finalists: Halep, Konta
World No.5 Dominika Cibulkova and No.6 seed Garbiñe Muguruza are headlining this quarter, but I’m not confident in choosing them. Muguruza has struggled with injuries this year, but a quarterfinal appearance at Indian Wells last week is an encouragement. Cibulkova’s notables so far are only semifinal appearances in St.Petersburg and Doha, and had early exits in her other tournaments. That opens a way for some of the lower seeds, Caroline Wozniacki, Indian Wells champion Elena Vesnina, Daria Gavrilova and Ana Konjuh. However, Wozniacki could face in-form Lauren Davis in the second round, while teenager CiCi Bellis looms for Vesnina’s opener. It’s a tough quarter to predict once again, so I’m going with the top seeds, Muguruza and Cibulkova for this.
Quarter-Finalists: Muguruza, Cibulkova
Fourth quarter: Headlined by (2) Karolina Pliskova and (5) Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska has been disappointing in 2017, and her draw doesn’t help her to make a charge here in Miami. She could face Wang Qiang in the second round, before an Australian Open rematch with Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Her projected fourth round opponents are even tougher, with Elina Svitolina and Pavlyuchenkova looming. Got to go with Svitolina for this section, she has doable opponents and her form has been just rising and rising.
Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova reigns the last section of the draw. She struggled in Indian Wells but was still able to reach the semifinals, which is a good sign as a blooming top player. Last week, she was projected to play Latvian Jelena Ostapenko in the second round but due to Serena Williams’ withdrawal she was moved to the top of the draw. Once again, Ostapenko is a potential second round opponent for her. Likely third round opponent for Pliskova is Yulia Putintseva. This are all fine match ups for Pliskova, but she seemed to be struggling with injury last week so we’ll have to see. Right above Putintseva’s name is Australian Open semi-finalist CoCo Vandeweghe, who has struggled since reaching great heights in Melbourne. A more possible round of 16 opponent for Pliskova should be either countrywoman Barbora Strycova or even Monica Niculescu.
Quarter-Finalists: Svitolina, Pliskova
Finalists: Konta, Cibulkova
Not sure about Konta winning Miami though, not very confident about the choice! But hoped you enjoyed the preview and remember to watch Miami this week 🙂