1. Venus Williams v Sloane Stephens
There were two third round match-ups that I had my eye on; the first, which was Radwanska/Barthel bombed out yesterday when Mona lost to Magdalena Rybarikova, but the second one has thankfully materialised as Venus Williams will take on Sloane Stephens in the showcase match on Saturday. Venus edged past a dogged Kimiko Date-Krumm who saved a flurry of match points before eventually succumbing to a 7-6(3) 3-6 6-4 defeat. By all accounts, it was a great match and that does not surprise me at all having watched their second round match at Wimbledon in 2011, which remains one of my favourite matches from the past couple of years.
Sloane recovered well from a shocker of a start to beat Olga Govortsova, 0-6 6-4 6-4 and snap a three match losing streak. Venus and Sloane have never played before, but we know how Sloane got on against her sister with that superb win over Serena in the Australian Open quarter-finals. I originally went for Venus to win this match and I am still sticking by that premise. Although neither has been playing well of late, I think Sloane is stil adjusting to the added limelight and that Venus‘s greater experience will help her claw her way into the 4th round with a gutsy win.
Prediction – Venus Williams to beat Stephens in 3 sets
After losing the first set of her second round match against Peng Shuai, Petra Kvitova looked in danger of facing a swift exit, but she recovered well to take the next two sets and her place in the third round with a 5-7 6-2 6-2 win. Her next opponent is Kirsten Flipkens, who had a straightforward win over Stefanie Voegele, 6-4 6-2. Flipkens has been super consistent this year and has only had one poor result, which was a first round exit at Florianopolis to Olga Puchkova. Kvitova and Flipkens have not played for a couple of years and their head-to-head currently stands at 1-1. Kvitova is always going to struggle in the Miami heat and I am going to be bold and go for Flipken’s consistency and versatility to eek out the upset win.
Prediction – Flipkens to beat Kvitova in 3 sets
3. Caroline Wozniacki v Garbine Muguruza
Caroline Wozniacki had a mammoth struggle on her hands to get past Karolina Pliskova in her opening match, but she eventually made her way into the third round with a 5-7 6-3 6-3 win in 2 hours and 17 minutes. The Dane is defending semi-final points from last year and takes on the up-and-coming Spaniard, Garbine Muguruza in round three. Muguruza defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 4-6 6-2 6-2, who continues to struggle following that great first week in Brisbane. Muguruza made the 4th round in Indian Wells and has backed it up with another excellent week here too. I don’t see an upset in this one, but it will be interesting to see how Muguruza shapes up against the solid rock wall of Wozniacki…
Prediction – Wozniacki to beat Muguruza in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy)
Best of the rest: womens 3rd round predictions
Serena Williams to beat Ayumi Morita in 2 sets
Dominika Cibulkova to beat Romina Oprandi in 2 very tight sets
Li Na to beat Varvara Lepchenko in 2 sets
Agnieszka Radwanska to beat Magdalena Rybarikova in 2 sets
Andrea Petkovic to beat Ajia Tomljanovic in 3 sets