The highlight of the second round matches on Friday will see the Indian Wells finalist, Jelena Jankovic go up against the most dangerous of the unseeded players, Victoria Azarenka. Vika continues to be one of the main talking points of WTA draws this year, but that should start to change soon as she is defending nothing up to Wimbledon. Azarenka has made a very encouraging start to the year and she continued that general feeling in her first match in Miami. Azarenka defeated Silvia Soler-Espinosa, 6-1 6-3 in one hour and 21 minutes. It was a high quality first round match and Soler-Espinosa put up a really good fight in the second set. Azarenka won the last five games of the match to seal her place in the second round.
Azarenka is playing really smart tennis at the moment and one thing that sets her apart from other WTA players is her ability to change things up. She has a plan B if things aren’t working. Azarenka finished with 30 winners to 23 unforced errors in her first rounder and won 60% of her service points. Jankovic had a bye in the first round and comes into Miami after winning five matches in the desert. Jankovic’s run to the final came as a surprise as she had struggled for form this year and admitted herself that she wasn’t even sure she would play the tournament. She kickstarted her year with victories over Madison Keys, Belinda Bencic and Sabine Lisicki. In the final, she had the title in her grasp but crumbled under the pressure when serving for it.
Azarenka leads the head-to-head with Jankovic, 6-4. Azarenka has won five of their last six matches stretching back to 2009. Jankovic’s lone win during that spell was a straight sets win at the Tour Championships against an out-of-sorts, Azarenka. Jankovic was also in complete control of their last match at the start of last year in Brisbane. Much like the final in Indian Wells last week against Halep, she began with a confident and aggressive gameplan. However, Azarenka eventually turned the screw and came back to win in three sets, 1-6 6-3 6-4. The pair have had their fair share of entertaining encounters; their break-happy three setter in Cincy certainly had its moments! Jankovic is likely to be fatigued from her run at Indian Wells. However, I don’t think that will affect the outcome of this match. Even if JJ was 100%, i’d still go for Azarenka in this match-up. She is playing decent tennis, with both margin and variety, and I believe she will be too strong for Jankovic on this occasion.
Prediction: Azarenka d. Jankovic in 2 sets