Indian Wells down, Miami up next. There is barely any time to let the dust settle and reflect on Indian Wells with the WTA main draw to begin on Tuesday. The quick turnaround does frustrate me, particularly with the main draw beginning before qualifying has finished. Indian Wells was a decent tournament this year with some some good matches and a crazy final, which saw Simona Halep beat Jelena Jankovic to win her first Premier Mandatory title. The draw for Miami is more attention grabbing than the one for Indian Wells with some very interesting potential match-ups. Let’s take a sweeping look at the draw…
As ever, Serena Williams is the number one seed in Miami. After withdrawing from the semi-finals of Indian Wells against Simona Halep due to a knee injury, her participation remains with a question mark. There were reports on Twitter (@crosscourt1) that Serena had a cortisone injection to help her be ready for Miami. Her draw is remarkably similar to the one that she was dealt in Indian Wells… in fact it is almost identical! She could play Monica Niculescu in a repeat second round match. That would be a London buses match-up as the pair had never played before last week. The three seeds in Serena’s eighth of the draw are also the same; Zarina Diyas would be a potential third round opponent, followed by Svetlana Kuznetsova or Angelique Kerber in the fourth round.
Serena finds herself in the same quarter as Ana Ivanovic. The Serb suffered a second consecutive loss to Caroline Garcia in Indian Wells. Thankfully for Ana, Caroline is nowhere to be seen in this quarter! Ivanovic’s section features seeds, Garbine Muguruza, Sara Errani and Sabine Lisicki. I’m waiting for another big tournament from Garbine and this is certainly a workable draw for the Spaniard having drawn a duffer in IW where she played Karolina Pliskova in the third round. Lisicki comes in with an injection of confidence after reaching the semi-finals of Indian Wells. She could be in line for a big hitting, helmets-at-the-ready second rounder against Julia Goerges.
Simona Halep and Eugenie Bouchard head up the second quarter, which has plenty of talking points. One of the big storylines for any WTA draw right now is where Victoria Azarenka lands. In this case, Vika has landed in Halep’s eighth and could play the Indian Wells finalist, Jelena Jankovic in the second round. Flavia Pennetta, who reached the quarter-finals in Indian Wells, is also in this section. I was convinced that Halep would pull out of this tournament due to injury, but Courtney Nguyen tweeted that Halep intends to play. In her first match, she will play Nicole Vaidisova or a qualifier. In Bouchard’s eighth, there is the potential for a second round match between Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys. The pair have never met before so it would be a landmark match if it comes to fruition. Sloane would have to overcome Yanina Wickmayer in the first round, which is no way a given. Lucie Safarova is also in this section and will play Yaroslava Shvedova or Johanna Larsson in the second round. Shvedova beat Safarova in an extra-time finish in Melbourne earlier this year. If Lucie wins her first two matches, I like her chances in the draw past round three.
Agnieszka Radwanska is the highest seed in the third quarter and will be looking to reboot her year after another disappointing loss in Indian Wells. Her draw features the likes of Carla Suarez Navarro, Alize Cornet and Irina-Camelia Begu in her eighth. Suarez Navarro has been in great form this year although she did struggle with a foot injury in her quarter-final against Halep last week. Cornet is 6-6 for this year and hasn’t got going yet. Wozniacki’s section looks more challenging on paper; her eighth features Venus Williams, Sam Stosur and Varvara Lepchenko. Venus and Sam are seeded to meet in the third round with the winner likely to play Caro if the draw goes to seeding. Wozniacki suffered a third round loss to Belinda Bencic in Indian Wells and has made a solid, yet unspectacular start to the year. Wozniacki won a title in Kuala Lumpur, but has come up short in the marquee matches she has played in 2015.
Maria Sharapova bookends the draw in a reasonably strong section of the draw. Sharapova will play Daria Gavrilova or a qualifier in the second round. Gavrilova has been steadily rising up the rankings this year and is now deservedly in the world’s top 100. Last week, she took a set off Simona Halep in their second round match. Sharapova’s first projected seed is Caroline Garcia, who she was set to play in the semi-finals of Acapulco before being forced to withdraw with a stomach virus. Garcia has enjoyed two wins over Ana Ivanovic this year and first announced herself when she came close to upsetting Sharapova at Roland Garros in 2011. Karolina Pliskova is also lurking in this section of the draw. If seedings hold up, Sharapova and Pliskova will play each other for the first ever time in the last 16. Ekaterina Makarova is the other top eight seed in this quarter. After a loss to Timea Bacsinszky where she let slip a double break third set lead with an avalanche of errors, i’m not confident about Makarova’s chances. The likes of Andrea Petkovic, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova and Elina Svitolina are all in this section and capable of reaching the quarter-finals.
QF Predictions: S.Williams v Muguruza, Safarova v Azarenka, Radwanska v V.Williams and Petkovic v Sharapova
SF Predictions: S.Williams v Azarenka, V.Williams v Sharapova
Final Prediction: S.Williams d. Sharapova
It all comes down to Serena again… I remember a few occasions where she has come in with injury doubts and ended up winning titles like this. I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt but if she does pull out, i’d go for Sharapova over Azarenka in the final. Comments always appreciated but PLEASE be respectable to others 😉