WTA Miami, 2nd Round Previews for Friday: Stephens v Keys, Kerber v Watson

Juan Martin del Potro made his second comeback of the year in a 6-4 7-6(7) loss to Vasek Pospisil in Miami today.  Delpo had his chances in both sets; he had four break points in the first set and then served for the second set at *5-4.  He also had a set point in the tiebreak, which he double faulted on.  Pospisil made this much harder than it should have been although to his credit, he saved his best tennis for the most crucial stages of the match.  Delpo needs more matches obviously and the backhand will be a concern going forward, but it’s great to have him back.  I’ve said it a lot but that forehand grunt is one of my favourite things in tennis.

Predictions wise, today has been ropey! Well done to those who backed Irina-Camelia Begu in the comments section of my last post and also to tenniz-fan for going with Mladenovic! I was quite surprised to see Barbora Zahlavova Strycova lose in straights to Kristina Mladenovic.  I’m pretty sure BZS was up a break in the first set.  After a great start to the year, she’s suffered two early exits in IW and Miami.  Now onto Friday where the schedule has shafted many of the women, but at least the best matches have been reserved for the TV courts.  I’m pleased that Vika v JJ (preview HERE) and Sloane v Madison are both up early… a delightful Friday evening of tennis awaits 🙂

1. Madison Keys v Sloane Stephens (Miami, R2)

Keys (2)Now this should be fun… in a first career match-up, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens will square off in Miami.  Stephens won her first match of the week against Yanina Wickmayer, 6-1 6-3.  The stats were horrible for Yanina (8 winners to 35 unforced errors) but it was another steady performance from Sloane.  After reaching the fourth round at Indian Wells, there are signs that she is starting to turn her year around.  Now coached by Nick Saviano, it seems a perfect fit for the pair.  Keys had a bye in the first round and comes into Miami with one win and one loss since the Australian Open.  She was beaten by Jelena Jankovic in three sets, having been up a set and then up a break in the decider.  It says something about the expectation around Keys that she was considered as the CLEAR favourite to win that match.  I’d fancy conditions to favour Sloane, but it’s never easy to write off Keys and her booming groundstrokes.  I’m fascinated by this match and to see who comes out on top… i’d actually take Sloane.

Prediction: Stephens d. Keys in 3 sets

2. Angelique Kerber v Heather Watson (Miami, R2)

Kerber2015 has been a rough ride so far for Angelique Kerber.  The 27-year-old German has posted a 6-7 W-L record this year and has lost her three matches on tour.  She recently parted ways with coach, Benjamin Ebrahimzadeh and is now back working with her former coach, Torben Beltz.  She has been training in Las Vegas since suffering an early exit in Indian Wells to Sloane Stephens.  After watching parts of that match, it seemed that Kerber was struggling to find a balance between sitting back and defending, and when to attack.  A lack of belief on court has been evident this year.  In the second round, Kerber faces Heather Watson.

The Brit’s year has been defined by peaks and troughs; the peaks have been more pronounced though with a second WTA title in Hobart and a fourth round showing in Indian Wells where she recorded a superb win against Agnieszka Radwanska.  On Wednesday, she laboured to a three set win over Evgeniya Rodina.  Watson failed to serve out the match at *5-3, but managed to win the last two games of the match with some gutsy play.  I started watching towards the end and Watson suddenly started screaming during rallies.  It was no surprise that the handshake was pretty cold!

The pair’s only previous encounter was at Wimbledon last year where Kerber prevailed in three sets, 6-2 5-7 6-1.  Spurred on by the Centre Court crowd, Watson put in a spirited display to take a set off Kerber.  However, she couldn’t keep up her high level from the second set as Kerber rolled through the decider.  Based on form, this would seem to have upset written all over it.  This is a huge match for Kerber and she is in dire need of some confidence from somewhere, anywhere!  To overcome Watson, Kerber will need to be positive as Watson has become much more aggressive in her tactics.  I’m not sure why, but I believe that Kerber will snap her losing streak and get back to winning ways…

Prediction: Kerber d. Watson in 2 tight sets

WTA Miami 2nd Round Predictions

Serena Williams d. Monica Niculescu in 2 sets

Zarina Diyas d. Catherine Bellis in 3 sets

Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Alison Riske in 3 sets

Sara Errani d. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in 3 sets

Garbine Muguruza d. Sesil Karatantcheva in 2 sets

Julia Goerges d. Sabine Lisicki in 3 sets *feeling indecisive about this one*

Ana Ivanovic d. Irina Falconi in 2 sets

Simona Halep d. Nicole Vaidisova in 2 tight sets

Alison Van Uytvanck d. Camila Giorgi in 3 sets

Flavia Pennetta d. Tsvetana Pironkova in 3 sets

Lucie Safarova d. Johanna Larsson in 2 sets

Belinda Bencic d. Casey Dellacqua in 2 sets

Eugenie Bouchard d. Tatjana Maria in 2 sets

Photos by Omar Boraby and Moo’s Tennis Blog

20 thoughts on “WTA Miami, 2nd Round Previews for Friday: Stephens v Keys, Kerber v Watson

  1. While I am tying this, Maria is struggling to survive the second set after losing the first one. Gavrilova is incredibly joy to watch.

    Heading to the second round, I really hope Kerber can stop sliding.

    Keys is not very ready in terms of mental games. Stephen is playing solid tennis at this moment. I think it is a very huge effort for Keys to beat Stephen (may be I am wrong).

    People may like to write off Vaidisova (former top 10) but I think she can create an upset. She has all the weapons to beat top players except she is very rusty sometimes.


    • I don’t think Vaidisova was ever *that* good, to be honest. She was top ten in quite a weak time, when Ivanovic and Jankovic were number one in the world. I think Halep should get through with little fuss unless she has a bad day.


      • Too many upsets in the past weeks. Halep should win based on her resume but who knows!! Who would think Sharapova could lose in 2 sets?


      • Let’s be serious, Vaidisova is not upset material, particularly under the current circumstances. 4 and a half years on the sideline, before that a rapid down-hill? Her top shape was light-years ago. For an upset to happen we’d need a sleepwalking Halep, like in the Aus Open QF. Otherwise, even in a poor form, Halep would take this, even if in 3 sets with a slow start.


      • Sharapova is prone to odd losses at random times to low ranked players. Halep doesn’t (often) lose to players ranked below her.


      • You make a valid point, but not in the context of right reasoning. There is no “weak time” regarding the quality of a champion or champions. Ivanovic and Jankovic still play among the very best bar age and enthusiasm. Vaidisova has very few miles on the clock plus a top player’s mentality regardless of era. tennis prediction has to do more with circumstance than stats and a combination of them. A see a good matchup here for vaidisova. A match where she could do some minor damage before Halep starts reeling her in. The one major hinderance now is that the match has now become too much of a public bet. A situation where the bookies can excel. Halep in 2


      • Well I’d say Jankovic was a better player in 2013 than the year she was number one and she wasn’t even top five. Ivanovic was in more impressive form last year than in 2008, aside from that FO win.


      • Agreed. JJ’s game has evolved so much since when she was number one and I think she would have won a Grand Slam back then with the serve that she has now.


    • It is just like nobody dares to bet against Serena or Sharapova but nobody is unbeatable as it happens. Someone sent me a video between Babos/Vaidisova match, she played absolutely well. I think she may be far from her best but she is getting there. 9 aces and very few unforced errors were really impressive. Perhaps I like to see some upsets. Sometimes one needs to beat a big name to get respect like Daria.


  2. Gavrilova played a very good match. She was ready for every point. Her defense was incredible, reminded me a bit of Radwanska, not as much variety as Radwanska but very similar style of game and sending different balls all the time. Sharapova’s Miami woes continue. If Daria’s defensive game is really that good then she is a future top 20 for sure.


  3. I think Madison has a chance againt Sloane if Madison takes an early lead. Sloane loses interests in matches when she is down. I also think Heather has a chance against Kerber, Heather played very well at IW and I think she is pumped right now.


    • Agreed. If Madison comes out and wins the first set, I don’t think Sloane will win. However, I think the conditions will suit Sloane and the fact she’s played a match too will help. I’m all in for Madison, but apart from the Aus Open, she hasn’t proved herself in terms of consistency yet. Looking forward to this one…


  4. I had doubts about Ivanovic, Safarova and Bouchard. Safarova and Bouchard (WOW!) confirmed my “weird feeling”, Ivanovic was one step over the ledge. Now, Serena, even though she won 6-3, 6-1 with Niculescu, looked pretty shaky and insecure, particularly on her first serve. Sharapova shamefully out. Woz struggling. Won’t say anything about Simona as I might not be very objective. I don’t know, it looks like there a shit storm about to happen at the very top of the WTA and it started to show in IW.

    Really wondering what will happen later in Radwanska’s match with Begu, I can’t completely rule out an upset with this trend.

    To be true, right now the most realistic bet to win Miami seems to be on Azarenka. I wish it were Simona, but I believe that if she passes Giorgi, she’ll only have the second chance against Vika.


    • Serena always looks unsettled in her first match of an event. She nearly lost here last year to Caroline Garcia in an early match.

      Karolina Pliskova was ruthless in her match against Gibert, who played like a mini Muguruza. She played the best tennis I’ve seen from her in that second set. Her and Gavrilova will be a great match!


      • And actually Serena had great stats. Only 2 doubles to 7 aces, 57% first serves in, 70% first serve points won


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