The second round is officially in the books at the 2021 Miami Open. It was a quiet day session as all the matches that I watched were decided in straight sets. Most of the excitement on day 4 happened at night as the last four matches on the schedule were all decided in three sets including the winning return of Sofia Kenin. Read on for Friday’s diary from Miami. Saturday has a very alluring schedule and previews for my top three matches can be found here.
Day 4️⃣ Highlights
(28) Amanda Anisimova d. Sloane Stephens, 6-3 6-3
From a break down in the first set at 2-3, Anisimova caught a hot streak as she won eight of the next nine games to ultimately decide the match. Stephens has had a tough start to the year and I can’t begin to imagine what she’s going through off court after losing both her Grandparents and her Aunt to COVID in a short space of time. I actually thought Sloane played OK and it was a positive tournament for her as she scored a first win of the year in the first round over Ocean Dodin.
When Anisimova gets on a roll, she is pretty damn hard to stop. Big fan of Anisimova’s game as regular readers of the blog will know. Still have a concern for Anisimova when plan A isn’t working. I feel she has become more aggressive since I first started watching her on tour.
(8) Bianca Andreescu d. Tereza Martincova, 7-6(5) 6-2
Next up for Anisimova is a rather tantalising third rounder against Andreescu who came through a tricky opening set before exerting her control over Martincova in the second set. Andreescu struggled to consistently string good points together in the first set and Martincova handled Andreescu’s junk and variety well. In the key moments, Andreescu showed her class as she saved two set points down 4-5 and then held her nerve to edge the first set breaker.
It’s great to have Andreescu back and she’s a huge value add to the tour. I’m looking forward to watching more of her matches because I feel I haven’t really watched her much following her sudden rise in 2019.
(1) Naomi Osaka d. Ajla Tomljanovic, 7-6(3) 6-4
It’s now 22 wins and counting for Naomi Osaka. In her first match since the Australian Open, Osaka was really challenged by Tomljanovic. It was yet another clutch display where Osaka raised her game when it really mattered. I’m bored of repeating it. Just so impressive.
Tomljanovic served for the first set at *5-4. Osaka found her A-game on return. To her credit, Tomljanovic didn’t back off in the second set after losing the first set on the tiebreak. Tomljanovic had chances to break early on. Osaka saved triples down 0-1 in the second set and then secured the lone break of the second set at 4-4.
It’s hard to back against Osaka right now. I had this feeling before the tournament that she wouldn’t win Miami, she’d come unstuck somewhere. That’s probably pure stupidity on my front 😂. Just feel like this streak has to end somewhere and the field is strong.
(12) Garbiñe Muguruza d. Wang Xinyu, 6-4 6-1
Muguruza opened her Miami campaign with another relentless display. I can’t get over this rejuvenated Muguruza, it’s infectious. Her focus, her intensity, it just brings a smile to my face and long may it continue.
I was impressed with the 19-year-old Wang Xinyu, not to be confused with the 19-year-old Wang Xiyu. Wang Xinyu, who you may remember had that moment with Sharapova back in 2019, strikes the ball beautifully and for a set, was pretty much toe-to-toe with Muguruza in groundstrokes. The first set was some of the best quality tennis i’ve seen in Miami so far.
The difference was all about the serve. The pair matched their winners and unforced error count in the first set. Muguruza though landed 70% of first serves in play compared to Wang’s 35%. Wang improved her first serve percentage in the second set but Muguruza continued her ruthless approach to returning. Wang one to watch and will need to improve the serve. Muguruza marches onto the third round and is no doubt one of the favourites for the title.
(21) Elena Rybakina d. Kaia Kanepi, 6-4 6-0
I don’t understand what happened in this match. Tennis is bamboozling. This was a wildly unexpected final result because Kanepi led 4-2 in the first set and had two break points for a double break lead that would have seen her serve for the set. Kanepi was the better player, the more aggressive player in the early proceedings.
The 4-2 game seemed to change everything because Rybakina didn’t lose another game after it, winning the last ten games of the match! Rybakina just knuckled down, got a lot of balls back and handled everything that Kanepi threw at her. Then cruised to victory with a fine second set display. I think it was probably Rybakina’s best win of the year!
Best of the rest 🎾
Liudmila Samsonova beat the number 10 seed, Kiki Bertens, 6-2 6-1. In her three tournaments since returning from surgery on achilles, Bertens has won just ten games. Hopefully things will click soon for Kiki when she returns to the clay.
Sara Sorribes Tormo continued her superb recent form from Mexico to take out the number 13 seed and Australian Open finalist, Jen Brady. Sorribes Tormo won 11 of the last 13 games from 3-6 1-3 down to win 3-6 6-4 6-1.
Nina Stojanovic rallied from 5-7 2-5 down and saved two match points to beat the number 26 seed, Yulia Putintseva, 5-7 7-5 6-2. Stojanovic gets a shot at Osaka in the next round.
Favourite snap 📸
Day 5 watchlist 📺
(14) Victoria Azarenka vs. (24) Angelique Kerber (3rd up on Grandstand)
(9) Petra Kvitova vs. (17) Jo Konta (5th up on Grandstand)
(1) Ash Barty vs. Jelena Ostapenko (1st up on Grandstand)