WTA Miami, 2nd Round Preview for Thursday: Kaia Kanepi v Varvara Lepchenko

The streaming of WTA matches is never great in Miami, but the coverage started today.  It’s much better than previous years so we should be thankful for that! I saw the end of the first round match between Belinda Bencic and Daniela Hantuchova.  The Slovak hit some winners to recover a 5-2 deficit in the second set tiebreak before Bencic rallied to win the final two points of the match.  Heather Watson needed three shaky sets to get past Evgeniya Rodina.  The Brit suddenly started screaming towards the end of the match.  She played a positive final game to break the Russian player’s serve at the end and won on a fortunate net cord.  I won’t be doing an ATP preview this week, but you can check out my full predictions for the tournament HERE.  None of the matches really grabbed me for Thursday so I haven’t invested much time in a preview today.  Friday’s potential line-up looks much more enticing so there will be more previews coming tomorrow…

Varvara Lepchenko v Kaia Kanepi (Miami, R2)

KanepiThe number 28 seed, Varvara Lepchenko will take on Kaia Kanepi in the second round of the Miami Open on Thursday.  It’s not that long ago that Kanepi would have been the seed in this match-up.  The Estonian player has been dogged by back and achilles injuries over the last couple of years and they always seem to strike when she is in full flow and has momentum.  This year has been no different; she started the year with a quarter-final showing in Brisbane, which included an upset win over Andrea Petkovic.  However, in her next tournament in Hobart she was forced to withdraw through injury.  She also pulled out of her match in Dubai and hadn’t won a match since the first week of the year.  This changed on Tuesday with a straight sets victory over Francoise Abanda in the first round of Miami, 6-2 6-3.  The scoreline sounded straightforward although Kanepi did fail to serve out the match.  This has become a common trait of Kanepi matches as nerves all too often get in the way.  Thankfully on this occasion, she was able to seal the win.

Lepchenko started the season in superb form down under; she reached the semi-finals of Brisbane with wins over Sam Stosur and Madison Keys, and made it to the third round of the Australian Open.  However, she was not well in Australia and spent several weeks recovering from pleurisy and pneumonia (tweeted by @BenRothenberg).  She came back to the tour in Monterrey (seemingly too early) where she was thumped 6-0 6-1 by Michelle Larcher de Brito.  At Indian Wells, she appeared to be back to form with a win over Sachia Vickery and a three set loss to Simona Halep.  Kanepi leads the head-to-head with Lepchenko, 3-0.  Two of their matches have gone the distance.  Both have the tendency to get nervous and lose concentration, and i’d expect a tight match again.  I’m going against the H2H and fancy Lepchenko, who has been playing the more solid tennis this year, to live up to her seeding.

Prediction: Lepchenko d. Kanepi in 3 sets

WTA Miami 2nd Round Predictions

Agnieszka Radwanska d. Anna Schmiedlova in 2 sets

Tereza Smitkova d. Irina-Camelia Begu in 3 sets

Alize Cornet d. Elena Vesnina in 3 sets

Carla Suarez Navarro d. Stefanie Voegele in 2 tight sets

Venus Williams d. Urszula Radwanska in 3 sets

Sam Stosur d. Pauline Parmentier in 2 sets

Caroline Wozniacki d. Madison Brengle in 2 sets

Ekaterina Makarova d. Karin Knapp in 2 sets

Elina Svitolina d. Bojana Jovanovski in 3 sets

Barbora Zahlavova Strycova d. Kristina Mladenovic in 3 tight sets

Andrea Petkovic d. Christina McHale in 2 tight sets

Karolina Pliskova d. Annika Beck in 2 sets

Shuai Peng d. Paulo Badosa Gibert in 2 sets

Caroline Garcia d. Kurumi Nara in 2 tight sets

Maria Sharapova d. Daria Gavrilova in 2 sets

16 thoughts on “WTA Miami, 2nd Round Preview for Thursday: Kaia Kanepi v Varvara Lepchenko

    • Urszula has had a good year, come through qualifying and got used to the courts, beaten Venus before and Venus hasn’t played for a good few weeks… I could see her dropping a set.

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      • The balls stay verrrry low in Miami. It’ll help Venus on serve and on her winners. But it does give Radwanska the opportunity to hit balls at her feet. Is she good enough to do that consistently? I’m not sure. Venus has a great record here.

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      • Venus lost on clay in 2013. This is hard court. Venus in 2. Ula can’t stay close to Venus’s ground strokes.

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  1. Smitkova d. Begu in 3 sets.. I’ve got Begu beating Radwanska in the next round in my Draw Challenge so I’d be glad if you were wrong there haha. I also have Mlad beating BZS but otherwise I completely agree with your predictions. (Hoping Gavrilova to upset Sharapova somehow though)

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    • If Begu has recovered from her injury in Rio, I don’t see Smitkova winning this one. Begu is on an ascending trend lately and with enough focus, she’s capable of much more than just stealing a set from Smitkova.

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      • She had an intercostal muscle tear. She was hoping to get through it for Indian Wells, but she wasn’t fully recovered. Also, in that Rio 3-set semifinal, probably because of exhaustion and extreme heat she kind of blacked out, then had a nose bleed. It was a tough tournament for her and almost a perfect tournament as she also reached the doubles final. But due to the injury she couldn’t play it.

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    • I can’t get over Begu being a seed. She has had some fantastic weeks on tour, notably Aus Open, but also has the tendency to be very erratic. It was a 50-50 match IMO.

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      • Indeed, I’m a bit surprised but absolutely thrilled about her rise in the start of the season, and if it weren’t for that injury in Rio + the exhaustion, she could have had a perfect tournament there with at least finals in both singles and doubles and maybe even a chance for both titles. I’m really looking forward to a match with Aga and hoping for a good tournament as she’s part of the more accessible quarter in Miami.

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      • I agree. I think both players are very erratic. It is a 50/50 match. I like Begu because she has very good forehand but I wouldn’t take her to win since she has not played on HC since Rio. It Tereza loses the first set, Begu will win in 2 otherwise it will be decided in 3 sets.

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      • Sudut, looks like you nailed it, Tereza took the first although it was in Begu’s hands, but in the end, Begu ran away with it in 3 sets. James, you were right about it going to 3 sets, still. 🙂

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  2. Never saw that one coming. Gavrilova sure took the shine out of Masha. Now that makes me see Halep’s win over Daria at Indian Wells in a new light. The kid’s got some nice skills, she’s fast, she’s pretty strong, today she was allover the court. And Sharapova lacked the patience to “allow” Gavrilova to make her youthful mistakes.

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    • Same, didn’t see this one coming. Really warming to Gavrilova this year, I like her game and more importantly, her attitude. Beating Sharapova is a big deal.

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