2017 @MiamiOpen Women’s Preview, Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The Premier Mandatory double reaches its second leg in Miami this week, with Elena Vesnina entering as the Indian Wells champion. Can the Russian do it again?
Serena Williams’ withdrawal means Angelique Kerber will keep her number one ranking despite not being in the best of form. The German is still searching for her first title of the season in Miami, and could face one of the players that has gotten the better of her thus far in the third round. Daria Kastakina has landed in Kerber’s section once again. Can the top seed get her revenge? If she can get past the Russian, then it is hard to see the German losing in round four. It is likely either Kiki Bertens or an out of sorts Carla Suarez Navarro in waiting.
Svetlana Kuzenstova will enter Miami in good form after making the final of Indian Wells last week. The Russian Is set to meet Roberta Vinci in the third round, but has a tough test in a confident Kristyna Pliskova in the second round. It is hard to look past Kuznetsova making the fourth round where she is projected to meet Venus Williams. The three time champion could end up with a tough third round against the in-form Kristina Mladenovic. Kuznetsova will be favourite however, and given Kerber’s so-so form, I see the Russian progressing to the last four again.
Prediction: Kuznetsova def. Kerber
Simona Halep’s 2017 has been a non-starter due to poor form and injury woes. Can she kick start her season properly in Miami? The Romanian could face rising youngster Naomi Osaka in what could be a testing second round match. Ekaterina Makarova is projected for round three. Sam Stosur is the seeded fourth round opponent, but the Aussie has a tough draw ahead with Eugenie Bouchard or Ashleigh Barty in round two, then possibly Caroline Garcia in round four. This is a wide open section with the potential of a surprise quarter finalist.
Madison Keys will look back positively on her Indian Wells run given it was her first tournament on the year. The American will look to go even further in Miami where she likely kicks her tournament off against Tsvetana Pironkova. Irina Begu is the first seeded opponent, so it looks like a good draw for Keys to make the fourth round, but there is when it gets interesting. Johanna Konta voiced her disappointment after her loss to Garcia in Indian Wells and aims to be in better form for Miami. The Brit could meet another Frenchwoman in round two in Alize Cornet. Timea Babos is the projected third round opponent before an interesting clash with Madison Keys. The American’s form is still unknown at this point so I am predicting Konta to make it out of this match and out of the quarter.
Prediction: Konta def. Halep
There were positive signs for Garbine Muguruza in Indian Wells. She showed more aggression and despite another loss to Karolina Pliskova, she came out of the tournament with a positive mind set. The Spaniard has some tough players in her section such as Christina McHale, Belina Bencic and Shuai Zhang, but if Muguruza can play her best tennis then she will be favourite to advance. Where it could get interesting is against Caroline Wozniacki in round four. The Dane is not a given to make it to the last 16 with players such as Monica Puig and Anastasija Sevastova in her section, but a match against Muguruza in round four will be an enticing affair.
Fourth seeded Dominika Cibulkova will look at Miami as a chance for another big title, but she has a tough draw ahead if she is to do so. Whilst Misaki Doi should not be much of a problem, highly touted youngster Ana Konjuh could be in the third round. Indian wells champion Elena Vesnina has also ended up in this section of the draw. The Russian herself could have a difficult third round match against Lucie Safarova or Daria Gavrilova. Vesnina’s confidence will be sky high after winning the Indian Wells title, but will it be enough to get past Cibulkova? I believe the winner of this will make the quarter finals with Muguruza’s indifferent form.
Prediction: Cibulkova def. Muguruza
Karolina Pliskova is once again one of the tournament favourites heading into Miami. The Czech will open against Jelena Ostapenko in round two then face Yulia Putintiseva in the third round which is a decent draw for Pliskova to the last 16. There she could be in for an all Czech battle against Barbora Strycova, but the 15th seed could find herself being overpowered by Coco Vandeweghe in the third round.
Agnieszka Radwanska’s season has been less than stellar, but she is the latest person to win the event in the draw. Can she do it again? The Pole has a good second round draw, but her third round opponent is the ever dangerous Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. Based on form, Elina Svitolina may be the one to make it to the quarter finals. The Ukrainian has some tough matches ahead against the likes of Katerina Siniakova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, but she should make the fourth round against Radwanska. I feel Svirolina will beat the out of form fifth seed, but will find Pliskova too much in the quarter finals
Prediction: Pliskova def. Svitolina
Kuznetsova def. Konta
Pliskova def. Cibulkova
Pliskova def. Kuznetsova