The tennis is in Miami for the next two weeks with a WTA 1000 event that boasts nine of the world’s top 10. Miami sets off a series of tournaments that we haven’t seen for two years. I’m especially looking forward to Charleston, Stuttgart, clay in May and then the grass court season. Omg I can’t wait for the grass. I’ve just found out that all tickets for Eastbourne have been rolled over for another year. It sounds like there might be a small number of fans for 2021. My expectations are low for being able to watch live tennis this year. I will happily settle for just Wimbledon going ahead.
Anyway back to the present and the main draw for Miami began on Tuesday. Along with Indian Wells, it’s one of those weird draws where the 32 seeds all have a bye in the first round. It’s always a bit of a slow starter. Read on for my first round diary from Miami.
Day 1️⃣ and 2️⃣ Highlights
Zarina Diyas d. Venus Williams, 6-2 7-6(10)
I was surprised to see Venus back on court so soon after what looked like a nasty ankle roll in Melbourne. In that regard, I guess this result wasn’t that surprising. The two key stats were Venus’s 35 unforced errors and Diyas landing 86% of first serves in play. The match ended on a see-saw second set tiebreaker. Venus held two set points. Diyas required four match points to close it out. Diyas managed to handle her nerves and reset after fluffing a forehand from a favourable position on her second match point.
Venus’s spirit was there, as always, but she was mostly erratic with many groundstrokes dumped in the net. Diyas is underrated in my opinion. Her game isn’t flashy at all but she’s a very solid hitter and has a good attitude. This was one of Diyas’s most high profile wins on the tour and I think it’s one of the few times I’ve heard her speak in the post-match interview!
Shelby Rogers d. Madison Brengle, 6-3 6-3
It’s jarring to see Rogers outside the world’s top 50 right now because she is currently playing top 30 level tennis, arguably top 20. This was a very secure and contained display against a tricky opponent in Brengle who played a decent match, consistently getting one extra ball back in play (as Rogers stated in her post-match interview!) and using Rogers’s pace.
Rogers was absolutely clutch on serve. Rogers won all nine of her service games and owned the big points. Rogers climbed out of a 0-40 hole on serve in the first set and served out the match to 15 in clinical fashion. Nice to see Rogers with a clothing deal and looking fab in Fila. Next up for Shelby is the number five seed, Elina Svitolina. One to watch…
Danielle Collins d. Kristina Mladenovic, 6-3 6-3
Much like Shelby Rogers, I think that Collins’s ranking of 40 is misleading. This was another decent display from Collins who was ultimately rewarded for being the more aggressive player, belting some fabulous forehands and hitting more than four times as many winners as Mladenovic (27 to 6). Collins was super aggressive on return with Mladenovic winning just five of 21 points on her second serve. Collins had glitchy moments in both sets where she had her serve broken. Both times, Collins dusted herself off, clicked back into her aggressive return groove and broke straight back. All in all, a pretty routine win for Collins.
Jelena Ostapenko d. Wang Xiyu, 6-4 6-7(4) 6-1
Ostapenko needed three sets to beat the 19-year-old Chinese wild card having led by a set and 3-1. For a time in the second set, Wang Xiyu was actually outhitting Ostapenko which was quite a novel concept. Ostapenko managed to keep her frustration at bay in the third set by getting the all important first strike in play. Ostapenko took advantage of Wang’s struggles on serve with just 42% of first serves in play in the decider.
Press musings 📰
Highlights from Miami’s media hour.
Recommended reading 📚
Loveddd this interview with Ana Konjuh by Alex Macpherson for the WTA. Konjuh has been through the mill with four surgeries on her elbow. The final two paragraphs of this piece were very moving. Konjuh had a superb win on Wednesday in Miami, beating Katerina Siniakova in straight sets for her first main draw win at WTA level since Brisbane 2018!