Day 5 at the Miami Open featured a star-studded line-up of WTA matches. There were a couple of upsets and a noteworthy withdrawal, but the four top 10 seeds in action all advanced to the last 16. Magic Monday Miami style is shaping up to be a belter! Read on for Saturday’s diary from Miami. Thoughts on my top three matches on Sunday can be found here.
Day 5️⃣ Highlights
(14) Victoria Azarenka d. (24) Angelique Kerber, 7-5 6-2
This was another compelling edition of the Azarenka-Kerber match-up which has produced some absolute classics over the years. It was a decent contest and one of the better matches of the tournament so far. Azarenka and Kerber’s games just come together to produce highly watchable tennis.
The first half of the first set was the most convincing tennis i’ve seen from Kerber in quite some time. Kerber’s forehand was sensational, propelling her into a 4-1 first set lead. Kerber seemed to lose her rhythm on serve at 4-2 which just left the door open for a slow-starting, Azarenka. I thought Azarenka started to serve better and increasingly take the ball early and look to move forward. The Amazon Prime coverage shared an interesting stat that Azarenka began to play with more slice on her backhand wing during the second half of the first set.
There were a few flashes of brilliance from Kerber in the second set. Azarenka led from the front and never really looked like relinquishing control. One of those matches where I think both players came out of it positively. Really encouraged by Azarenka’s level. I didn’t expect such a high-level performance considering this was her first outing in Miami after pulling out of Doha and Dubai with a back injury.
Ana Konjuh d. (15) Iga Swiatek, 6-4 2-6 6-2
Ana Konjuh is the story of the 2021 Miami Open so far. I wasn’t that surprised by Konjuh’s victory over Keys. This result though I really wasn’t expecting. It was a different kind of display from Konjuh to the Keys match as we got to see her clean and sharp ballstriking in all its glory. That backhand is a treat.
Swiatek wasn’t able to handle Konjuh’s weight of shot and it’s something to keep an eye on going forward as Swiatek goes up against big hitters on tour. Swiatek grew increasingly frustrated and was on the verge on the tears in the third set. I thought Swiatek was going to have a deep run in Miami. Nope!
Konjuh has looked so calm and assured on court this week and she marches onto a fourth round match with Anastasija Sevastova. Huge opporunity for both players…
(1) Ash Barty d. Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3 6-2
Ash Barty has dropped just 14 games in her last three matches against Ostapenko. This was a tactically aware performance from Barty, nothing flashy, just did what was needed against an increasingly error-strewn, Ostapenko. Barty served well as ever, bookending the first set with two tough service holds. Barty built the points thoughtfully with her slice, forcing Ostapenko to go for too much. Barty cruised through the last six games of the match, rallying from an early break down.
A much-needed routine win for Barty after saving a match point in her opening match against Kristina Kucova. Barty advances to a last 16 clash with Azarenka. Bring it on.
(9) Petra Kvitova d. (17) Jo Konta, 6-1 6-2
Peak Petra in the house. Two matches down and just seven games dropped! This was a suffocating performance from Kvitova. Konta was under such immense pressure on serve as Kvitova was on the return in a flash. Kvitova didn’t face a break point and played the angles beautifully. Not a look-in for Jo. Too good from Petra.
Best of the rest 🎾
Elina Svitolina recorded her second win over Ekaterina Alexandrova in 2021, winning 7-6(1) 6-4. I didn’t go near this match after their Abu Dhabi debacle 😂.
Aryna Sabalenka recorded her second win over Veronika Kudermetova in 2021, winning 7-6(4) 6-4. Sabalenka saved a set point in the first set. Just three breaks of serve in 22 service games.
Marketa Vondrousova scored her best win of the year, coming from a set down to beat the number 11 seed, Belinda Bencic, 4-6 6-4 6-4. I only caught the first set but it was a very enjoyable watch. I think this is a good match-up. Bencic backhand to Vondrousova forehand rallies were dreamy!
Best point 🎾
The intensity of rallies in Azarenka-Kerber 😍.
Press musings 📰
Simona Halep was sadly forced to withdraw from Miami. Hopefully nothing too serious before the clay court season.
Recommended reading 📚
Get to know Nina Stojanovic. Any mention of JJ and i’m there 😂.
Day 5 watchlist 📺
(8) Bianca Andreescu vs. (28) Amanda Anisimova (4th up on Grandstand)
(6) Karolina Pliskova vs. (29) Jessica Pegula (1st up on Butch Buchholz)
(16) Elise Mertens vs. (22) Anett Kontaveit (2nd up on Butch Buchholz)