1. Ekaterina Makarova v Andrea Petkovic (Miami, R4)
The two highest seeds remaining in the fourth quarter of the draw, Ekaterina Makarova and Andrea Petkovic will meet in the last 16. This will be the first time that Makarova and Petkovic have played each other since 2010 when Petkovic prevailed in a three setter in Istanbul. Makarova was the first player into the fourth round of Miami with a surprisingly straightforward win over Elina Svitolina, 6-0 6-4. Makarova was upset by Timea Bacsinszky in Indian Wells in a match that she really should have won from two breaks up in the decider. Svitolina has been steadily improving yet was dispatched by Makarova with ease. It was an unstreamed match but the scoreline speaks for itself.
Petkovic lost just two games in a 6-0 6-2 rout of Kristina Mladenovic. It was a very balanced performance from Petkovic in tricky conditions. She did receive a lot of assistance from Mladenovic, who was very erratic throughout the match. The Frenchwoman was setting the points up well, but just couldn’t execute the final closing shot. It seems to me that Mladenovic has all the weapons to be an excellent singles player; however, for one reason or another, it’s not quite coming together. She looked very unsure of herself at times and missed so many drop shots in the first set. Despite a few moments of magic, mostly up at the net, Petkovic was never really troubled in this match.
I’d fancy Petkovic v Makarova to be a competitive match. Of course, there have many matches this week that I expected to be competitive and have turned out to be very one-sided. Makarova will be the favourite to prevail and she is seeking her first ever quarter-final showing in Miami having fallen at this stage of tournament on three previous occasions in 2009, 2012 and 2014. At the moment, I like Petkovic’s chances. The German player is very vulnerable in tournaments early on but once she gets a couple of wins under her belt she can gather some significant momentum. Petkovic has done well in Miami before reaching the semi-finals back in 2011 and i’d give her the very, very, very slight edge in this match.
Prediction: Petkovic d. Makarova in 3 sets
2. Karolina Pliskova v Dara Gavrilova (Miami, R4)
Two of 2015’s star performers, Karolina Pliskova and Daria Gavrilova will meet in the fourth round with the winner progressing to their first ever quarter-final at a Premier Mandatory event. This has been a huge week for Gavrilova, who ousted Maria Sharapova in the second round. She backed up the upset win with a straight sets victory over Kurumi Nara, 6-0 7-6(5). The second set got nervy as Gavrilova twice failed to serve out the match before eventually coming through in tiebreak.
Gavrilova is having a superb year; she enjoyed two top 50 wins in Australia over Alison Riske and Belinda Bencic, and also had that epic against Angelique Kerber in Sydney. When I say epic, I mean epic! Gavrilova won back-to-back ITF titles in Burnie and Launceston, and qualified for the main draws of Doha and Indian Wells. Last week, Gavrilova took a set off Simona Halep. She got down on herself in the third set against Halep, but I love her attitude. She displays her emotion, but normally in a positive way that shows she believes in herself.
Pliskova has won twenty WTA main draw matches this year… TWENTY! To put that into context, it took Pliskova until Wimbledon last year before she racked up 20 wins. Aside from losing to Alla Kudryavtseva in Brisbane, all of Pliskova’s losses have come against top 20 players. I don’t think the Miami surface suits her, but here she is in the last 16. Pliskova came from a set down to beat Annika Beck in the second round and then overcame the 17-year-old wildcard, Paula Badosa Gibert in the third round, 7-5 6-1. Gavrilova and Pliskova have never met before on the WTA tour and it should be an intriguing match. Based on her consistency and ability to deliver this year, i’d have to go for Pliskova.
Prediction: Pliskova d. Gavrilova in 2 tight sets