2021 WTA Manic Monday Miami Style Highlights: Barty edges Azarenka, Osaka & Sabalenka into QFs

Manic Monday Miami style. All eight of the fourth round matches were played on Monday and it was quite a day. Much like Sunday, it concluded in overwhelmingly exciting fashion during the night session. I’m going to watch back Muguruza-Andreescu tonight! Read on for Monday’s diary which focuses on the day session matches.

Day 7️⃣ Highlights

(1) Ash Barty d. (14) Victoria Azarenka, 6-1 1-6 6-2

Grandstand witnessed another streaky three setter as Barty scored an excellent win over Azarenka. The scoreline was perhaps a little deceiving in presenting three one-sided sets as there was some quality tennis on show. The start of the third set was tight with a trio of closely fought games. Barty saved two break points in a four deuce game at 2-2 to hold and it was ultimately the clincher as the errors began to mount for Azarenka.

I think Barty’s serve won her more free points and her forehand was on song, especially in the first set. Azarenka generally handled the Barty slice well but it was towards the end when things got tight that it helped to draw errors from Azarenka. The slice is a real slow burner.

All in all, i’m encouraged by Azarenka’s performances this week and I thought her level was pretty decent and the back seemed to hold up. I see alot of meh vibes towards Barty on Twitter which I personally don’t get. She’s one of my favourite players to watch. It’s so refreshing to see someone construct points like Barty.

(7) Aryna Sabalenka d. (19) Marketa Vondrousova, 6-1 6-2

After some tough matches this week in Miami including saving match points in her opening match against Tsvetana Pironkova, Sabalenka is rounding into some form. This was an awesome display as Sabalenka completely overwhelmed Vondrousova. Sabalenka was untouchable on serve and landed 69% of first serves in play. It’s an uphill task for anyone when Sabalenka serves this well.

What made me chuckle was Sabalenka throwing in drop shots in the first set and most of them were successful! Quite a bold tactic against arguably the best drop shotter on tour. Sabalenka is looking dangerous and she has no trouble hitting through these courts.

Minor rant – Sabalenka and Vondrousova were both wearing the same outfit which was quite confusing at times. I just don’t get why they can’t avoid a clash?! Tennis continues to shoot itself in the foot.

(2) Naomi Osaka d. (16) Elise Mertens, 6-3 6-3

23 wins and counting. This wasn’t a vintage display by Osaka who needed seven set points to close the opener and was becoming increasingly tied up by Mertens’s assortment of subtle slices and changes in pace and height of her groundstrokes. However, whenever Osaka was challenged, she managed to elevate her game to the next level.

Mertens took a medical time-out at 3-2 in the second set for a shoulder complaint. That might explain the scattering of double faults in this match and also against Kontaveit yesterday. I think it might be the same issue that has caused her some bother over the past few months. It was a momentum-crusher for Mertens as Osaka won 11 straight points on the resumption and four straight games to seal the win.

I like Mertens and she’s steadily improving. Still not entirely convinced she can go to that next level in matches against the top ten. Osaka comfortably through to a first ever Miami quarter-final.

Best of the rest 🎾

Elina Svitolina recorded her first top ten win in 18 months, rallying from a set down to beat Petra Kvitova, 2-6 7-5 7-5. The heat and humidity got to Petra in the end as her serve suffered. Svitolina needed two bites at the cherry to serve it out. The first time she was just waiting for Kvitova to miss. Second time round, Svitolina was more positive.

Anastasija Sevastova ended the wonderful run of Ana Konjuh to record one of her best results in quite some time. Sevastova won, 6-1 7-5.

Maria Sakkari saved six match points (!!!) to beat Jessica Pegula, 6-4 2-6 7-6(8). Tough one for Pegula although having watched back the end, Sakkari was phenomenal on the match points!

Sara Sorribes Tormo advanced to the biggest quarter-final of her career with yet ANOTHER three set win! Sorribes Tormo beat Ons Jabeur, 6-4 0-6 6-1.

Bianca Andreescu is causing waves again on the WTA tour! The Canadian player scored a huge win over Garbiñe Muguruza, 3-6 6-3 6-2.

Hot shot 🔥

Are you kidding me x2?!

H&H 🤗

This was a lovely moment of respect between Pegula and Sakkari after such a tough match. I won’t lie that I feel a bit uncomfortable with players shaking hands after matches.

Day 8 watchlist 📺

(1) Ash Barty vs. (7) Aryna Sabalenka

(5) Elina Svitolina vs. Anastasija Sevastova

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10 thoughts on “2021 WTA Manic Monday Miami Style Highlights: Barty edges Azarenka, Osaka & Sabalenka into QFs

  1. The Barty hate (I think meh is perhaps a little kind) is petty but sadly predictable. I remember in early 2019 everybody loved her style of play. Now suddenly she’s boring and only number one because of X and Y…

    It seems that as soon as a player does really well (winning slams and becoming #1), the press and public seem to turm on them. It seems to be particularly the case for female players.

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    • Yes, I think she should be more popular (outside Australia) than she is as she is pleasant and self-effacing, and from my point of view shows that there is still a place at the top of the game for players who don’t hit the ball at close on 200 km/h (Andreescu too). I think the conditions in Miami suit her because she’s from Queensland and so is used to humid heat as well as to hard courts.

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    • I do like Barty’s ‘person’, probably even more than her tennis cause I feel that’s what drives her play and general demeanour, so I’m a bit biased. The ranking chatter is understandable in such an independent and competitive sport. If you were to ask me who should be number 1 now, Naomi Osaka, period. But it is what is, hopefully tour life returns to normalcy soon. On the topic, if you asked me who gives me the niggles now, Pliskova. Whose start to the year has piqued my interest, Garbine. Who needs a little oomph to her game, Petra. Who do I like to have around in tournaments win or lose, Halep. Who seems to be low key a bit of a drama queen but I’m okay with..Bianca. Who is…well you get the picture. 🙂 I doubt if they even care what I think!

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      • Haha well i’m interested to know what you think! Andreescu back in the mix just adds another dimension to the challengers at the top of the game. WTA is in a good place right now.

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  2. I agree with your comment James about this not being a vintage display by Naomi and she did not play especially well ( by her usual high standards anyway ) with Mertens getting off to a slow start and then later suffering with her bad shoulder. I am pleased that she won and will be cheering louder than usual for her in her next match as I do not like Sakkari. I do not expect it to be easy for Naomi to win though and I see that most of their previous matches have gone to 3 sets. Mertens is improving and I like her style.

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    • Ahh why not a fan of Sakkari? I think she’s one of the nicest players off court. Not been a fan of her game but warming more to it. She’s hugely improved from a year or two ago.

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      • Oops ! I’ve just realised that I’ve had one of my mental lapses ( not surprsising at my age ! ) and I got confused between Sakkari and Jabeur ! I’ve not seen a lot of Sakkari and am neutral about her at the moment but I do quite like the way she plays tennis in the few matches that I have watched her in. I do not like Jabeur as I do not enjoy watching her play on court and her demeanour means that she never looks like she is enjoying it and she seems dour imho.

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