The second round of the 2022 Miami Open is in the books. The seeds came out to play on Thursday and Friday. The story of the tournament so far is that not many of them are sticking around in Miami! 11 of 14 lost on Thursday and a further 6 of 14 departed on Friday. Thursday in particular was a perfect storm of absolute carnage. Don’t get me wrong, I like carnage. Thursday was too much to handle 😂.
Simona Halep, Garbiñe Muguruza, Camila Giorgi and Marketa Vondrousova all pulled out of the tournament. Rather hilariously, that’s three of my semi-finalist picks! I don’t think that’s ever happened before. I think the tournament structure lends itself to upsets with the seeds having byes in the first round, coming in cold and then having to play against an opponent who has already had at least one match to adjust to the courts and conditions. Today’s post covers the continued return of Karolina Muchova, thoughts on another tough loss for Emma Raducanu to Katerina Siniakova and a historic Friday evening as a new world number one was confirmed. It’s been quite a week…
Thursday’s order of play began with the two matches that I had circled with thick red ink. The returning-from-injury, Karolina Muchova scored another excellent win as she defeated the number 18 seed Leylah Fernandez, 6-4 7-6(3). It was a fun watch, a real feel-good match because there were so many exciting points. Muchova in particular was a trojan warrior at the net – her agility at times was unbelievable!
Ultimately, I thought Muchova showed her class on the key points. Muchova did wobble at the end as she twice failed to serve out the match. The Czech player was clearly feeling it physically. This was totally understandable considering she’d just played her first competitive match in seven months the day before (two hours and 26 minutes vs. Martincova) and was rather stitched up with the schedule, playing first up on Grandstand. When I play tennis for the first time in a long time, I normally can’t move the next day so this was some effort 😂.
I like Fernandez and I think she’s making steady progress since reaching the final of the US Open. Fernandez is one of the most tenacious competitors and she won’t let any match go without a fight, a great quality to have. She knows how to get the crowd involved and on her side! Fernandez rallied to force a tiebreak in the second set but was unable to take advantage of a clearly tiring and wavering, Muchova. Fernandez will want some of those returns back towards the end of the match.
Muchova’s route through the draw doesn’t get any easier as next up is Naomi Osaka. This is an all unseeded third round match-up! Without a smidgeon of doubt, this was Osaka’s best performance of the season as she defeated the number 13 seed, Angelique Kerber, 6-2 6-3, in just an hour. While Kerber offered up very little resistance in the second set, it was a seriously strong performance from Osaka. It felt pretty close to peak. Osaka is a perfect 19 out of 19 for holding serve in her first two matches and was hitting clean winners at will off both wings. Not much more to add. Too good.
Following Osaka-Kerber onto Stadium court was another top court billing for the number 11 seed, Emma Raducanu up against Katerina Siniakova. I’m still in the phase of enjoying watching and learning about Raducanu with every match. There’s no sugar coating though that this was a brutal loss. Raducanu led by a set and a break, and served for the match at *5-3 in the decider, hitting her only double fault (a big one) down break point. Siniakova prevailed in the end, 3-6 6-4 7-5 in two hours and 53 minutes. Raducanu looked absolutely gutted at the end 😥.
I sense there could be some negativity around Raducanu with this recent loss which i’m steering well clear of. Raducanu is clearly still on a huge learning curve and getting to grips with the physical nature of the tour on a weekly basis. Raducanu has played almost exclusively three setters in 2022 which is in stark contrast to her run at the US Open. Her last three losses (i’m including the Saville match in Guadalajara although technically a retirement) have all been physically demanding matches. In all three matches, Raducanu served for the match. There will be scar tissue developing no doubt. The perspective though is that this is Raducanu’s first full year on the tour and I tend to lean more to the fact that she’s putting herself in these winning positions. It’s just coming up short in those final stages. I really do feel the game is there and it’s just about building up match stamina. In the last two losses, Raducanu just looked physically and mentally spent by the end.
Siniakova showcased some pretty remarkable resilience to win this match. Twice she was in tears in the first set. I know that’s nothing new with Siniakova! The Czech player looked in distress early on and struggling to breathe. I find Siniakova endearing and I do tend to root for her. Her game is, in my opinion, top 20, pushing towards top 10. If only she could figure out the mentality side. Easier said than done. Considering how singles has gone for Siniakova this year, this was a notable victory.
The upsets continued on Thursday as Anna Kalinskaya eased past the number six seed, Karolina Pliskova, 6-3 6-3. It jogged my memory that Kalinskaya played an inspired match in Miami last year against Muguruza which was one of my favourite matches of the entire season. Pliskova is still coming back from injury but I thought it was a pretty listless display in the second set.
At night, the two highest seeds in the top half also lost. Irina-Camelia Begu knocked out the number one seed, Aryna Sabalenka, 6-4 6-4. Begu was calm, composed and consistent. Sabalenka had her opportunities in this match but was mostly wasteful and returned poorly, repeatedly letting Begu off the hook. Sabalenka’s serve has been the big talking point of her game so far this season. It seems generally steadier. However it did crack under pressure as she relinquished her serve both times with a double fault.
Ann Li upset the number three seed, Anett Kontaveit, 6-0 3-6 6-4. As much as I recognise Li’s game and she played great, I was very surprised at this result. From watching back the third set, Kontaveit seemed rather out-of-sorts, overforcing the issue with a lot of unforced errors.
Friday’s matches opened with a pair of upsets. Shelby Rogers completed the Indian Wells-Miami double over the number 10 seed, Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3 7-6(0). An upset on paper but Rogers is one of the most dangerous loomers in the stack of unseeded players. I think this was the best serving performance I’ve ever seen from Shelby?! 15 aces, 68% of service points won and nine out of ten break points saved. Not many players have impressed me more than Rogers in Miami so far. Oh, and a new idea for a drinking game. Take a swig every time Ostapenko questions a line call. Delusional 😂😂😂.
Now this one was definitely an upset. Step forward 16-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova who stunned the number 20 seed, Elise Mertens with a superb performance, winning, 7-5 2-6 6-1. I’ve heard so many good things about Fruhvirtova and this was the first time that i’ve caught a glimpse of her. Unsurprisingly, she was very impressive. The timing on the backhand was beautiful. You’ve got to play well to beat Mertens…
The number 16 seed, Jessica Pegula beat Sloane Stephens, 6-1 6-4. This is one of those matches that I watched but I can’t really explain what happened. It was all a bit of a blur. Stephens looked on course to take this the distance with break points at 4-2 in the second set for a double break lead. Stephens didn’t take them and Pegula went onto win the last five games of the match.
The biggest upset on Friday saw Beatriz Haddad Maia beat number four seed, Maria Sakkari, 4-6 6-1 6-2. Haddad Maia had a steely determination and look in her eye that she wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass by. Perhaps the result was a nod to how difficult it can be to adjust between Indian Wells and Miami? Sakkari had a bad day at the office and committed some shocking errors in the third set.
The final top five seeds in actions avoided the cull with straight set wins. Phew! The number five seed, Paula Badosa had to work very hard to get past Marie Bouzkova, 7-5 7-5. And the number two seed, Iga Swiatek had no hangover from Indian Wells with a 6-2 6-0 victory over Viktorija Golubic. The first set wasn’t as straightforward as the score indicates as Swiatek saved eight of nine break points. Iga was absolutely ruthless on return.
It was a historic evening as by virtue of the win, it was confirmed that Swiatek will fill the newly vacant world number one spot! Surely Swiatek must have known the permutations and she handled the occasion magnificently well. I must admit I am a tad worried for Swiatek that all these new ranking positions have happened so quickly. She’s a thinker so it must be a lot to take in. It’s richly deserved as Swiatek is clearly head and shoulders above the field so far in 2022.
Best point 🎾
One of those exciting points from the super Muchova-Fernandez match.
Super snap 📸
Love this shot of Muchova’s celebration.
Recommended media 📺
Take note, ATP 🙃
R3 Previews 🤔
Naomi Osaka vs. Karolina Muchova: Match of the round. I think Osaka respects Muchova’s game and will be wary. Impressed with Muchova’s level so fast out of the blocks. I’d still go for Osaka in this one who has yet to drop serve.
Daria Saville vs. Katerina Siniakova: I’m ordering popcorn. Two of the more colourful characters on court. I’m feeling really good about Dasha 2.0 and I hope she doesn’t overthink it because there’s huge chances this week to bag some big ranking points.
(8) Ons Jabeur vs. Kaia Kanepi: It went under-the-radar on Thursday but Kanepi slayed yet another seed, her fourth seeded upset of 2022 alone. I haven’t seen enough of Ons this year to really develop a picture of where she’s at. If i’m going on instinct, I would take Jabeur.
(12) Victoria Azarenka vs. Linda Fruhvirtova: Fascinated to watch more of Fruhvirtova and see how she gets up for the challenge of Azarenka.
(16) Jessica Pegula vs. (17) Elena Rybakina: Ring the bells for a first time meeting. One of those matches that i’m just interested to see who comes out on top. Sticking with Pegula to have a decent run in Miami.