The manic March of tennis moves to Miami for the next two weeks with the second Premier Mandatory tournament of the year. Serena Williams will be missing again but nine of the world’s top ten are in attendance. Once again, this is just a sweeping preview looking at the key takeaways of the draw with all 32 seeds having a bye into the second round and therefore, their first opponents are not yet known. I’m looking forward to Miami with the time difference being much more agreeable for me compared to Indian Wells. Let’s take a look at the draw…
The full draw for the Miami Open can be found HERE.
A tough draw for Kerber – Overall this looks a pretty balanced draw with no sections jumping out of the drawsheet. The world number one, Kerber faces a tricky draw in Miami with either Duan Ying-Ying or Laura Siegemund up first. She struggled in Indian Wells although granted, the conditions are not favourable to Kerber’s game. There is the potential for a third match-up in 2017 in the third round against Daria Kasatkina with the Russian player having won both their previous encounters this year. Perhaps more dangerous, based on recent form, is Shelby Rogers who isn’t afraid of a big upset after defeating Simona Halep in Melbourne.
Tracking youth in Miami – This tournament is a great one for offering opportunities to up-and-coming players and the 2017 edition is no different. Main draw wild cards have been awarded to the likes of Beatriz Haddad Maia, Ashleigh Barty, Natalia Vikhlyantseva, Paula Badosa Gibert and Amanda Anisimova, the latter who at 15 years old, will make her WTA main tour debut against a qualifier. Anisimova reached the final of Roland Garros last year in juniors. Furthermore, the qualifying also features the likes of Anastasia Potapova, Kayla Day, Katie Swan, Jaqueline Cristian and Sofya Zhuk, who have all received wildcards.
Rematches galore – This draw could yield many rematches from match-ups we’ve already seen in 2017. To name a few – Kerber-Kasatkina (R3), V.Williams/Tsurenko-Mladenovic (R3), Vinci-Kuznetsova (R3), Muguruza-Zhang Shuai (R3), Sevastova/Puig-Wozniacki (R3), Wickmayer-Safarova (R1), Radwanska-Lucic-Baroni (R3), Pavlyuchenkova-Svitolina (R3), Petkovic-Vandeweghe (R2) and Ka. Pliskova-Ostapenko (R2). Of all the ones listed, i’d be down with a Venus v Kiki rematch – the Frenchwoman won comfortably in St. Petersburg but the American had arrived in Russia with barely any time to prepare following the Australian Open final.
Dark horses – There’s definitely a sense that no seed is ‘safe’ in this draw. Players that have decent draws (on paper!) and that I will be tracking closely as I think that they have a good chance to outdo their seeding/ranking include Shelby Rogers, Carla Suárez Navarro, Kristina Mladenovic, Peng Shuai, Ana Konjuh, Lucie Safarova and Monica Niculescu.
Records in Miami
Of the 16 seeds in Miami, all but one (Barbora Strycova) have a positive record in Miami. Garbiñe Muguruza is the only top eight seed never have to reached the quarter-finals although she has reached the fourth round on three occasions including her first appearance in 2012 as a wildcard. Former champions, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Agnieszka Radwanska have both amassed a heap of wins in Miami; Venus Williams has the best record though with 57 match wins (!) and three championships to her name in 1998, 1999 and 2001. Johanna Konta will be making just her second appearance in Miami, while Elena Vesnina and Sam Stosur have identical W-L records.
First Round Polls
WWW Miami Poll
It is apparent just from the tournament poll (already up on the predictions page) that there is no clear favourite for this draw as, at the time of writing, there is a pretty even spread of votes across many players. From the top half, I like Konta to come through. The Brit had arguably her poorest match of the year against Caroline Garcia in Indian Wells; however, the more regular conditions in Miami will likely suit her game and she has been one of the consistent players on hard court over the past year. I’d fancy her to find that groove again following several weeks away from the tour to rest a foot injury before Indian Wells.
The bottom half is much trickier for me – players I liked pre-draw are on collision course in the third round; for example, Wozniacki and Puig, and Svitolina and Pavlyuchenkova. I wasn’t feeling as high on Pliskova for this tournament but she has been remarkably consistent so far this year and if she were to get past potential second round opponent, Jelena Ostapenko, I think she’d be good to go for another deep run.
Final Prediction: Konta d. Ka. Pliskova