The third round of the 2022 Miami Open is in the books and the last 16 will all come together Manic Monday style. Let’s not beat around the bush – Miami hasn’t been great so far. The third round had two withdrawals, two retirements and not much of note in the matches that played out. But heyyy please do still read on for my thoughts 😂
The opening match on the Butch Buchholz stadium on Saturday between Daria Saville and Katerina Siniakova was a potential popcorn match-up as the pair are two of the more animated characters on court. Unfortunately the popcorn was not required as Siniakova pulled the plug at the start of the second set with Saville leading 6-0 1-0. It became quickly apparent that Siniakova was still bothered by the same issue (rib? stomach?) that affected her in the last round against Emma Raducanu. That’s now back-to-back last 16 showings at Indian Wells and Miami for Saville who is climbing back up the rankings at pace! Saville will likely be favourite in the next match to reach the quarters.
After Saville-Siniakova finished early, I moved over to the Grandstand stream where the number 22 seed, Belinda Bencic was taking on Heather Watson. The early exchanges suggested this could be a long one as six of the first seven games went to deuce. From 2-4 down in the first set, Bencic found her rhythm and played really well in the end, winning 10 of the last 11 games to post a 6-4 6-1 victory. Watson was going toe-to-toe with Bencic through much of the first set. When Bencic suddenly put her foot on the accelerator, Watson wasn’t able to match Bencic’s level and the second set became somewhat of a formality. Bencic’s season has been curtailed from catching COVID in the off-season. This was a much-needed win and there’s huge chances in this top half to build some momentum.
Saturday’s match of the day didn’t take place. Ohhh I hate it when this happens! Naomi Osaka received a walkover into the last 16 as Karolina Muchova was forced to pull out with a left abdominal injury. My heart sank when I saw abdominal injury but Muchova’s tweet sounded more positive. Anna Kalinskaya also withdrew from the tournament handing a walkover to the qualifier, Lucia Bronzetti.
All three seeds in action on Saturday won. The number nine seed, Danielle Collins beat Vera Zvonareva, 6-1 6-4. It was a routine match for a set and a half. Collins was doing her normal thing, taking the ball super early and bludgeoning returns. Collins lost her focus from a set and a break up and it became apparent this was due to a neck injury. Collins had the trainer on and seemed in some distress. I thought Collins was going to retire but she continued to play and won the final three games! The medical time-out seemed to give Collins time to reset. Other than the second set issue, it felt quite normal to see Collins on the top court and I think she’s going to take up that mantle in her stride.
The final match of the day on Stadium between the number eight seed, Ons Jabeur and Kaia Kanepi was similar to Bencic-Watson in that the early exchanges suggested this was going to be a close one. Looks can be deceiving. Jabeur saved a pair of break points at *2-3 in an extended deuce game to hold… and then went onto win the last nine games! 6-3 6-0 in an hour. Jabeur battled with her first serve percentage all evening. Ons defended it well though. Where she really excelled was dictating the points with all-court variety and keeping Kanepi on her toes who became increasingly error-strewn. Jabeur plays Collins next. I’m in.
Sunday’s order of play opened in much the same vein as Saturday to be honest. The number 21 seed, Veronika Kudermetova beat Shelby Rogers, 6-1 7-5. I thought this was going to be close and I actually thought Shelby had a shot at the upset. Yeah… no. The first set was an absolute shocker 😂. Errors all over the shop from Rogers and I didn’t think Kudermetova was playing that well but she didn’t have to! The second set was better. Rogers never quite found her rhythm though and made few inroads on the Kudermetova serve which was solid all match.
Once again, my match of the day didn’t go so well. The 16-year-old wildcard, Linda Fruhvirtova continued her stunning run but not in the way she would have wanted, advancing via retirement against the number 12 seed Victoria Azarenka while leading 6-2 3-0. Fruhvirtova was going toe-to-toe with Azarenka. Boy can she hit the ball and dictate. Azarenka was completely rattled. The retirement was reminiscent of Anisimova from Indian Wells. Azarenka didn’t wait for the umpire and abruptly pulled the plug, shook hands and raced off the court. Very worrying 😔. Fruhvirtova has been one of the few shining lights of this tournament and next gets a shot at the number five seed, Paula Badosa.
In a first time meeting between the number 16 and 17 seeds, Jessica Pegula beat Elena Rybakina in straight sets, 6-3 6-4. Pegula played a steady match and front ran the second set impressively with an early break of serve. Pegula accepted a lot of freebies from Rybakina who simply didn’t put enough returns on second serves back in court. I don’t think Pegula is at the same level she was at this time last year but still having a decent season. That’s two good wins for Pegula in Miami and next up is Anhelina Kalinina who she went the distance with in the first round of Melbourne earlier this year. I think the courts suit Pegula and I like this draw for a deeper run.
The best match that I watched from this round was the number 14 seed, Coco Gauff taking on Zhang Shuai in front of decent crowd on Grandstand. Gauff rallied from a break down in both sets and saved a pair of set points in the first set to prevail, 7-6(1) 7-5. It wasn’t a surprise to see such a close match as Zhang has been in good form of late. Zhang will be ruing those missed chances. Gauff was having some issues with the forehand in the second set. While there are some technical issues with her game, I just love her attitude. Last 16 beckons with a shot at the newly crowned world number one…
Super snap 📸
R4 Previews 📰
(8) Ons Jabeur vs. (9) Danielle Collins: In the choppy seas of the top half, lo and behold an all seeded match-up. Jabeur did beat Collins handily in their most recent meeting but I think back to their Rolly G match in 2020 which was quite a contest. I’d go Collins if she was fit. I think the neck might be an issue.
(2) Iga Swiatek vs. (14) Coco Gauff: Most high profile match of the round. Gauff still has some issues with that forehand and I tend to think with the form that Swiatek is in that she will be able to exploit them.
(21) Veronika Kudermetova vs. (28) Petra Kvitova: Good news for Petra is this match won’t take place in the heat of the sun. Kudermetova is in good form and building a pretty solid slate of results. Enjoyed their match in Madrid last year. Kvitova 2-0 H2H. Head says Kudermetova, heart says Kvitova.
QF Predictions 🤔