Serena Williams endured another tough match on Saturday as she spent over two and half hours on court with Caroline Garcia. The Frenchwoman put in a spirited performance and hung around terrifically well in the third set before Serena closed out the match in style, 6-4 4-6 6-4. In other news, Sabine Lisicki’s rough luck continued as she was forced to pull out of Miami. She hasn’t won consecutive matches all year and that is mainly down to all these injuries and illnesses which have halted any chance for her to gather some momentum. On the mens side, there were upsets aplenty as Marin Cilic, Gael Monfils and Jerzy Janowicz all went out in straight sets. Let’s now switch attention to the best matches on day 6.
1. Kevin Anderson v Richard Gasquet (ATP Miami, R3)
Kevin Anderson and Richard Gasquet have experienced contrasting fortunes on the ATP tour so far this year. After reaching the last 16 at the Australian Open, Anderson has gone on a terrific run of form that has seen him reach two finals in Delray Beach and Acapulco, and make the quarter-finals of Indian Wells, which included handing Stanislas Wawrinka his first loss of 2014. Gasquet has put together a 12-6 W-L record that has included just one final appearance in Montpellier. There is no doubt that the world ranked number 9 has not been displaying top ten form so far this year. Both came through their first matches in Miami in straight sets; Anderson beat Horacio Zeballos, 6-4 6-3, meanwhile Gasquet needed two hours to beat Alejandro Gonzalez in a very competitive second round match, 7-6(7) 6-4.
Gasquet leads the head-to-head with Anderson by three wins to one; they didn’t play at all during the 2013 season, but Anderson did win their last match at the Indoors event in Bercy, Paris in 2012, 7-6(5) 4-6 6-1. This match-up with Anderson is the type of match that Gasquet has been losing in 2014. The Frenchman lost to Fernando Verdasco in Indian Wells last week, who hasn’t been playing particularly well in 2014. Anderson has demonstrated this season that he is more than just a huge serve and has seemingly shored up his shaky mental game with 15 wins already this year. Confidence is flowing and Anderson will be the favourite to reach the last 16.
Prediction: Anderson d. Gasquet in 2 very tight sets
2. Madison Keys v Li Na (WTA Miami, R3)
Madison Keys has been presented with some cavernous openings in draws this year, but has failed to fully make any significant inroads. In Melbourne, she was drawn in the weakest section of draw featuring Sara Errani, Roberta Vinci and Kirsten Flipkens but let a huge opportunity slip through her grasp as she blew a big third set lead in a match against Zheng Jie that she ended up losing. In Indian Wells, she was drawn once again with Vinci and Flipkens, but fell victim to Vinci’s first singles win in 2014. Miami has once again been kind and this time round, she’s converted on a good draw. In the second round, she defeated the number 31 seed, Daniela Hantuchova, 6-4 6-2.
Keys now gets a shot at the world number 2, Li Na and she definitely goes in with chances. Li hasn’t taken to the court yet in Miami after Alisa Kleybanova pulled out of their second round match with a viral illness. Li has a significant disadvantage with Keys having two matches under her belt. Keys also beat Li in 2013 when she was drafted in at the last minute in Madrid. 2014 has been a little disappointing so far for Keys when you compare it to the expectations and the potential of her game. I really considered the upset, but I don’t quite have the nerve to back Keys.
Prediction: Li d. Keys in 3 sets
3. Grigor Dimitrov v Kei Nishikori (ATP Miami, R3)
Just five places separate Grigor Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori in the rankings, which is a good indication of how close this match should be. Nishikori began his Miami campaign with a straight sets victory over Marinko Matosevic, 6-4 6-1. Nishikori needed five sets to get past Matosevic in Melbourne, but had a far easier time of it in Miami as he secured his fourth consecutive victory over the Australian player. Dimitrov lost a set to Albert Montanes, but survived what would have been a terrible loss.
Dimitrov and Nishikori have met just once on the ATP tour in Shanghai last year where Nishikori won comfortably, 6-3 6-4. Nishikori has shown some real glimpses of his best form in 2014; he won the title in Memphis and played a fine match against Rafael Nadal in Melbourne. Despite losing in three sets, he pushed Nadal really hard in a match that lasted over three hours. Dimitrov has had a similar year to Nishikori in that he was knocked out by Nadal at the Australian Open and has a won a title, a bigger one though at the ATP 500 event in Acapulco. It is Dimitrov right now who is receiving the more attention, but both are future top ten players in my opinion. Dimitrov with the slight edge in this match…
Prediction: Dimitrov d. Nishikori in 3 sets
4. Caroline Wozniacki v Sloane Stephens (WTA Miami, R3)
Caroline Wozniacki‘s unbeaten record over Sloane Stephens could come under jeopardy when the pair meet in the third round of Miami on Sunday. Both players have endured a rather rocky 2014 so far. Wozniacki has already made her way through two coaches and is now back permanently with her father, Piotr. She wobbled at times in her second round match against Monica Puig, coming through in the end, 6-1 1-6 6-3. Stephens has been heavily criticised for her attitude on court; however she put in a series of much improved performances in Indian Wells where she reached the quarter-finals, losing out to Flavia Pennetta in a dreadful match. The head-to-head is a surprise, but Caroline will take confidence from it. I fancy Sloane to grab a set, but Woz will prevail. This will be a big match with the winner having a great chance of making the quarter-finals with Jelena Jankovic now out of this section of the draw.
Prediction: Wozniacki d. Stephens in 3 sets
WTA Miami 3rd Round Predictions
Venus Williams d. Casey Dellacqua in 2 sets
Dominika Cibulkova d. Alize Cornet in 3 sets
Elina Svitolina d. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in 2 sets
Agnieszka Radwanska d. Elena Vesnina in 2 tight sets *Radwanska seems OK with the knee?*
Ajla Tomljanovic d. Varvara Lepchenko in 3 sets
Kaia Kanepi d. Carla Suarez Navarro in 3 sets
ATP Miami 3rd Round Predictions
Roger Federer d. Thiemo De Bakker in 2 sets
David Ferrer d. Andreas Seppi in 2 sets
Andy Murray d. Feliciano Lopez in 2 tight sets
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga d. Marcos Baghdatis in 2 tight sets
Tommy Robredo d. Julien Benneteau in 2 sets
Novak Djokovic d. Florian Mayer in 2 sets