WTA Miami Open, 4th Round Preview for Monday: Garbiñe Muguruza v Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

All in for this one… in their first ever match on the WTA tour, Garbiñe Muguruza and Victoria Azarenka will meet in the fourth round of the Miami Open, third up on Grandstand, in what promises to be a captivating match-up.

Azarenka has lost just one match this year, compiling an 18-1 W-L record with titles in Brisbane and Indian Wells. All the Raymond Moore drama on finals day at IW detracted somewhat from what was a brilliant win for the Belarusian, her fourth over Serena in a final. Azarenka seems to be in a great place, both physically and mentally, and this was apparent in her recent interview on the WTA Insider podcast.

The world number eight is into the fourth round of the Miami Open with two comfortable victories over Monica Puig (6-2 6-4) and Magda Linette (6-3 6-0). Azarenka was supremely solid against Linette, hitting 14 winners to 13 unforced errors, and saving the only two break points she faced in the first game of the second set.

Muguruza faced what looked like a tricky third rounder against Nicole Gibbs, but passed by with flying colours. Gibbs opened with a hold of serve but wouldn’t win another game with Muguruza sealing a virtual bagel in a 6-1 6-0 victory in 55 minutes. Muguruza, who was two points from defeat in her second round win over Dominika Cibulkova, produced a highly focused and driven display. This was probably her cleanest performance of the year and she was hitting big, particularly off the forehand side, and moving especially well.

Gibbs didn’t help herself out, getting just 47% of first serves in, but even when she did get a first serve in, the American was only winning 43% of points behind it. Muguruza was dangerous on return with precise aggression; she wasn’t going for audacious winners, but more keeping the ball deep and at the feet. Another positive sign for Muguruza was her intent coming forward – you know she’s confident when she is coming in behind the serve. Muguruza won eight out of nine points at the net points.

Interesting stat: Muguruza and Azarenka were seeded to meet each other in the fourth round at the Australian Open and Indian Wells but to no avail… third time lucky!

Final thoughts: Azarenka is riding a huge wave of confidence right now; the Belarusian has transitioned seamlessly between Indian Wells and Miami, and should be reasonably fresh with two straight set wins. This will be a big jump-up in quality though for Azarenka to contend with; her second serve could be vulnerable, particularly based on how well Muguruza has returned this week. Furthermore, the Spaniard has the much more consistent serve and was doing a great job at coming in behind it against Gibbs.

I’m a little hesitant about Muguruza because the last time she played this well (against Timea Babos in Doha), she was unable to back it up. The Spaniard would seem to have the edge in many areas but Azarenka has a raw determination and fighting spirit that can put the seed of doubt in her opponent’s mind. Furthermore, one of Azarenka’s most valuable assets is her ability to adapt and try something different if Plan A isn’t working.

Fascinated by this one and fingers crossed that it lives up to expectation. Tough one to call with no head-to-head data, but i’m leaning towards Muguruza…

Photo in this post by Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

9 thoughts on “WTA Miami Open, 4th Round Preview for Monday: Garbiñe Muguruza v Victoria Azarenka

  1. Very interesting preview! it’s a shame I will only have live scores to look at as I’m travelling. I do hope it will be a good match but I’m torn. I could see either of them winning, they are both great players. The problem is you never know which turn a “rivalry” takes. I mean there definitely are compelling matchups with no one having the edge and there are odd head to heads you would have never guessed (such as Maria against Serena, or even more odd Pliskova against Ana).
    Soo… I would love to know if this will be an odd match up or a competitve one 🙂 I might give Muguruza the edge but who knows.

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      • I’m watching it now – yeah. just got home in time when Garbi was 2:5 down. what a way to save match points. Also, Vika is playing great. Obviously a competitve match up!?!?! 😉

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  2. If both players are at or near the peak for this one it will be a great match. My money would be on Vika though because she has the greater experience of the two of them and she’s beaten Serena recently so she’s clearly in form.

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  3. That first set between Vika and Garbine had some of the best rallies in a match so far this year,Vika snatches it in a very intense tie breaker!

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  4. Really enjoyable match! Well done Vika,liked the way Garbine came back in the 2nd set,especially when Vika was serving for the match and forced a t/breaker.

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  5. Yeah, it was a great match to watch. Vika plays Jo Konta next; that could be an interesting match if Jo plays her best tennis, as she’s another player with a big-hitting game. She’s only played Vika once before, and Vika retired early in the second set.

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