Round four action at the Miami Open will kick off on Monday and it’s going to be a cracker as the top half of the draw is glittered with some star-studded names. Agnieszka Radwanska and Victoria Azarenka will meet for the 18th time in their careers, while two reigning Grand Slam champions in Sloane Stephens and Garbine Muguruza will have their first meeting since three years ago. Read on for these two match previews…
1.  Agnieszka Radwanska (No.32) vs Victoria Azarenka (No.174)
Radwanska and Azarenka will face off for the 18th time and the first time in almost three years, where Aga won in Montreal in 2014. This is somewhat a surprising fourth round encounter – Simona Halep and Anastasija Sevastova were seeded to meet but it didn’t happen as Radwanska and Azarenka upset them respectively. The Pole beat Halep in a 3-6 6-2 6-3 scoreline, where she was surprisingly consistent and was looking to come forward in the last two sets. It has to be mentioned though that Simona was making a lotttt of errors. While their rivalry was always close (5-5), Radwanska has been struggling to find her fitness all year and was even on a three-match losing streak coming into Miami. Praying hard Aga can find back her form after this fortnight!
Azarenka rebounded from a lacklustre first set to defeat the No.22 seed Sevastova, 3-6 6-4 6-1. The Latvian’s court craft was always going to be a problem for big-hitters and Azarenka was making way too many errors in the beginning. Credit to Vika as she rebounded back wonderfully and was playing some peak aggressive tennis, especially in the third set. Azarenka has been competing so well in her three matches in Miami it’s hard to tell she’s been away from the game for almost half a year.
Thoughts: This has always been an exciting rivalry in the past and I’ll expect it to be a fun three-set match this time round either. Victoria’s hard-hitting game matches up well with Aga’s defensively-minded style, though the Pole has really lost many weapons after suffering from injuries and illnesses in 2017. Credit to Aga for beating Halep, but the match was really in the latter’s hands as the Romanian made too many errors at times. If Azarenka can keep the errors low and execute an aggressive plan without getting perturbed by Radwanska’s ability of getting one more ball back, I suspect she will win in three sets. I’ll be all out cheering for Aga though! 🙂
Final Prediction: Victoria Azarenka d. Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets
2.  Garbine Muguruza (No.3) vs  Sloane Stephens (No.12)
Reigning Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza will face off against reigning US Open champion Sloane Stephens in a battle that is crucial for their confidence. Muguruza hasn’t been at her best all year, with her leaky forehand constantly giving her issues, but began to find her form during the Middle East swing. It all came crashing down in Indian Wells though as she was stunned by home favourite Sachia Vickery whilst leading by a set and 3-0 40-0. A win against Christina McHale in Miami would have given her a small bout of confidence though (even though McHale was absolutely horrid!)
Stephens’ form has been in the doldrums since winning the US Open last year but the fighting spirit that we saw during the 2017 US summer is still evident, with Stephens gritting out five wins in her last three tournaments or so. Her form in the Miami Open has been particularly encouraging as she moved past Monica Niculescu in the third round. Sloane did really well to save a ton of break points in the first set and although Niculescu took the set, she played a blinder in the second set to outlast the unique game of Niculescu. The third set was one of the best tennis we have seen Sloane play in almost half a year; with the wins coming right now, confidence is certainly increasing and she is one to look out for in this Miami draw.
Thoughts: The last time they met in 2015, Muguruza won with the lost of only two games, but I’ll expect the match this time round to be tighter. Both have very similar games; a good mover who possesses super flat groundstrokes but occasionally can lose control of their game. Muguruza has the bigger serve and I think that will be important to set up quick points on this slow surface where conditions favour the defensive-minded player. She also has the better mental toughness when it comes to the crucial moments.
Final Prediction: Garbine Muguruza d. Sloane Stephens in three sets
Miami predictions can be found at the top of the page or by clicking the link here! Thank you for reading!