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)
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)
2015 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