2021 WTA Miami, Day 5 Highlights: Azarenka shines in Kerber win, Konjuh upsets Swiatek

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)

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6 thoughts on “2021 WTA Miami, Day 5 Highlights: Azarenka shines in Kerber win, Konjuh upsets Swiatek

  1. I watched the Svitolina v Alexanderova highlights and it looked… bad. They seem to bring out the worst in one another somehow!

    Made up for Konjuh and Vondrousova. Would love to see them both building on these wins and having a good season.

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    • Oh really haha. Didn’t even go for the highlights! Alexandrova has had some good wins but i’m always underwhelmed whenever I watch one of her matches. Konjuh is such a feel-good story 😍.

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    • I recall a time past, I really believed Ana Konjuh was destined to be a top 10 player by her twenties. Well, better late than never. Oddly enough, back then, I had her filling the shoes of Svetlana when she retires for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve always liked Konjuh, can’t remember what I was thinking back in the day in terms of potential. I just hope she can stay healthy now, had some dreadful luck with the elbow.

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  2. Barty won easlly and Ostapenko looks very moderate nowadays. Sorry to see Belinda go out. This week is the 1st time that I have watched her for about 18 months and she is looking fitter and slimmer and faster around the court than when I last watched her.

    One thing that has not changed though is her fiery temperament and this let her down later on when she got frustrated with her game and then again when a spectator had a go at her and they had a shouting match. I do not want her to stop being fiery but hope that she can learn to use it in a more positive way and to her advantage Looking forward to watching Naomi later on.

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    • Hi Peter, yes i’m not sold on Ostapenko. I think Barty is a bad match-up for her. Oh gosh I didn’t know about shouting at a spectator! I watched the first set and the last few games and thought it was a good match. Yeah agree, I think that’s just in Bencic’s nature and not sure if that will ever change. I have felt im matches in the past that the frustration has taken over her game.

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