Thursday’s SF matches
Thoughts about both semi-finals can be found in Wednesday’s Set Points post HERE.
Thursday’s SF polls
Wednesday’s QF matches
Simona Halep vs. Wang Qiang: I thought Halep looked great at the end of her match against Venus Williams – serving strong, moving great and stepping into the court. I haven’t seen much of Wang Qiang this tournament but it’s clear from the results that she’s starting to find her form again after a slow start to 2019. In their only previous match, Halep won, 7-5 6-1 in Indian Wells last year. I think Wang Qiang has the kind of game that can cause Halep some problems. I’m not brave enough to call an upset though!
Karolina Pliskova vs. Marketa Vondrousova: Ring the bells for a new match-up alert! Both Pliskova and Vondrousova are the only two players to have reached the QFs of Indian Wells and Miami. Vondrousova’s run has been much the more routine as she is yet to drop a set. In contrast, two of Pliskova’s three matches have gone the distance. In fact, 15 of Pliskova’s 23 matches in 2019 have gone three sets, and she’s won 11 of them.
This is a really intriguing match. I’d give Vondy a good shot at the upset win. She’s built up the confidence from all her match wins in March and came pretty close to beating Svits in the IW QFs. I just know that Pliskova often seems to eek out these tight matches, even when not playing at her best and she’s got much more experience at this level. I’m torn.
Wednesday’s QF polls
Tuesday’s QF matches
Anett Kontaveit vs. Hsieh Su-Wei: I’m looking forward to this match! Hsieh has been brilliant so far this week with three set wins over Osaka and Wozniacki. In both matches, she’s hit a bundle of winners and defended her serve well. Kontaveit had a slice of luck with Andreescu retiring hurt. I felt like Anett deserved it though as she’s had some tough draws so far this year and her results haven’t necessarily reflected her overall performance. Kontaveit won their only previous match back in 2015 in Guangzhou, 6-1 6-3. I’m not sure how much i’d read into that as Hsieh is arguably playing the best singles tennis of her career. Kontaveit will be more rested but my instinct is that Hsieh’s funky, aggressive game will cause Kontaveit problems.
Petra Kvitova vs. Ash Barty: For the 3rd time this year, Kvitova and Barty will play each other. It’s becoming a decent match-up, even if Kvitova leads the H2H, 4-0! This run matches Kvitova’s best result in Miami and she did it in style with a very clean performance against Garcia in the 4th round. I keep harping on about it but Barty is just so reliable and consistent! She still needs another win to confirm her place in the top ten but it’s coming soon anyway. The step-up for Barty is being able to make an impact in these types of matches against the top ten players. The Aussie was very close in Sydney (Kvitova won, 1-6 7-5 7-6), but was outplayed in Melbs (Kvitova won, 6-1 6-4). With her career path, I tend to forget Barty is still very inexperienced on the tour. I fancy Barty to get at least a set here, but not sold on her claiming the elusive first win over Kvitova.
Tuesday’s QF polls
Monday’s R4 matches
Petra Kvitova vs. Caroline Garcia: Kvitova leads the H2H, 3-2 but they haven’t played in 18 months. I think Garcia has played the better, more efficient tennis to reach this stage but I remain wary as to whether she can back this up because she has been quite inconsistent this year. I thought Kvitova’s win over Vekic was quite a notable one as she didn’t play her best. However, she fought hard and defended her serve well, playing some great points in the key moments including some S&V. H2H shows no real trends so better player on the day. I’m finding it hard to pick a winner. Leaning towards Garcia…
Anett Kontaveit vs. Bianca Andreescu: Not a clue with this one. I feel like Andreescu’s injury complaints and issues with her shoulder will catch up with her at some point but she just keeps powering through and with a will to win. Kontaveit’s already knocked out one teen in Anisimova and this is a different kind of match-up for Andreescu compared to her recent matches going up against a power player. I feel like Kontaveit should win but i’ve been wrong every time this week with Andreescu so I don’t know what to say 😂.
Kiki Bertens vs. Ash Barty: Their last meeting in Sydney was probably my favourite match of 2019 so far. It’s rare to see a match where two players can sustain such high quality for an entire match. Barty won, 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 in the semi-finals of Sydney and leads the overall H2H, 2-0. I think it will be another close match. Both are solid and playing at a high level right now. I’ll go for Barty who I had reaching SFs in my Draw Chal.
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Hsieh Su-Wei: Wozniacki leads the H2H, 4-0 with Woz losing four games in less than three of those matches. I’m fascinated by this one because they haven’t played in four years and because Hsieh is playing so well right now. A part of me likes Hsieh’s chances in this match but the H2H is still there in my mind! I was impressed with Wozniacki’s focus against Niculescu and that match was perfect preparation for Hsieh because they have two of the funkiest games on tour.
Karolina Pliskova vs. Yulia Putintseva: Of the 22 matches that Pliskova has played this year, she’s gone to three sets in 14 of them. Pliskova has won 10 of them but I feel like she is making life hard for herself! I was impressed with Putintseva’s performance to turn around a 1-6 opening set against Sevastova in the third round. The pair last played each other in the first match of the year down under in Brisbane where Pliskova came from a set down to win. I’d fancy Poots to get a set here but Pliskova often seems to find a way through.
Wang Qiang vs. Wang Yafan: A great opportunity for both to reach the QFs of a Premier Mandatory and big points. Both have pretty similar games and steady from the baseline. Wang Qiang leads the H2H, 5-1 but they haven’t played in two and a half years. While Wang Yafan is playing arguably the best tennis of her career, I would say Wang Qiang has the edge with experience. After a slow start to the year, Wang Qiang seems to be finding her form on the US hard courts.
Marketa Vondrousova vs. Tatjana Maria: This is the only all unseeded last 16 match-up of the day. I don’t think Vondrousova is a big surprise to see at this stage -it’s good to see her posting such consistently impressive results over the past month. Maria enjoyed an excellent win over Stephens in the 3rd round. The pair have never played before. I’d go with Vondrousova to win this match as she’s been so, so steady on the US hard courts.
Simona Halep vs. Venus Williams: In terms of blockbuster match-ups, this is probably the stand-out of the day. The pair are split at 3-3 in their head-to-head with Halep winning their last three meetings and convincingly, dropping five games or less. I’m favouring the recent H2H and Halep in 3 on this occasion. Kasatkina gave Williams so many opportunities on serve and so much time on the ball in yesterday’s match. I think Halep will be much more relentless and make this a very physical match.
Monday’s R4 polls
Sunday’s R3 matches
Karolina Pliskova vs. Alizé Cornet: As has become the norm over the past few years, Pliskova has been very consistent and reliable. Pliskova has won their last two meetings in straight sets and i’d go for the hat-trick here.
Anastasija Sevastova vs. Yulia Putintseva: Expecting some variety and emotions in this one! I was surprised that Poots beat BB in the last round. Sevastova won their last match in Moscow, 7-5 4-6 6-4. While she is prone to a meltdown, I think Sevastova is generally a bit more consistent, both game-wise and mentally. I’ll go for Seva in 3.
Elise Mertens vs. Marketa Vondrousova: Hipster match of the day. Very intrigued to see how this one unfolds. Vondrousova is arguably in the best form of her career since her step-up to the WTA after a final appearance in Budapest, QFs in Indian Wells and now R3 in Miami. I can’t figure out Mertens this year. She made a quiet start to the year and then won Doha out of nowhere 😂. I think this is going to be a really close match. They are both solid from the baseline so I would be surprised if one of them runs away with it. Coin toss IMO – i’ll take a whirl with Vondrousova.
Sloane Stephens vs. Tatjana Maria: Under the radar, Stephens had a solid opening win against Jabeur, a player she lost to at the end of last year. Stephens has played Maria before so will know what to expect from her unique game. Sloane in straights.
Danielle Collins vs. Wang Yafan: Both are having great years – Collins broke through at a Slam, while Wang is having her breakthrough on tour period with her first WTA title in Acapulco and first top 10 win over Elina Svitolina in the last round. I’m a bit clueless with this one as I haven’t seen them play so far this week but leaning towards Wang Yafan?
Daria Kasatkina vs. Venus Williams: Match of the day on paper. Kasatkina and Williams have played three times and they’ve all been memorable. Kasatkina scored the then biggest win of her career when she won in Auckland. Williams prevailed in an absolute thriller at Wimbledon in 2016, winning 7-5 4-6 10-8. In their most recent meeting and one of my favourite matches of 2018, Kasatkina played one of her best matches on the tour to reach the Indian Wells final, 4-6 6-4 7-5.
Williams continues to tough out wins on the tour and is one of the most adaptable players out there. Kasatkina scored a rare win in the second round over Gauff having struggled with everything in 2019. I think Kasatkina likes the big matches and playing on the show courts so intrigued to see whether she gets up for this one. I’d have to go for Venus as just don’t know where Dasha’s confidence level is at.
Simona Halep vs. Polona Hercog: Interestingly, Hercog leads the head-to-head, 1-0! That win came almost ten years ago where Hercog won in a $100k ITF tournament, 7-6(3) 1-6 6-2. A very favourable draw for Halep so far. Halep in straights.
Sunday’s R3 polls
Saturday’s R3 matches
Naomi Osaka vs. Hsieh Su-Wei: One of my favourite matches for Saturday! Their clash at the Aus Open was brilliant with Hsieh a point away from serving for a straight sets win. I really enjoy watching Osaka try and figure out how to play someone with variety. The Osaka-Sevastova H2H is one of my faves. I’m going for Osaka in this match. The Japanese player was serving really well vs. Wickmayer and I think the serve will be key.
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Monica Niculescu: Here for the handshake… their last meeting in Doha was a testy affair as Wozniacki complained about Niculescu’s grunt during and after the match. The head-to-head has been plain sailing for Wozniacki who has dropped just one set in nine previous encounters! Not sure where Woz’s level is at having been ill earlier in the year. A good win over Sasnovich yesterday although Sasnovich doesn’t seem to be playing at the level she was in Australia? Niculescu had a wonderful win over Muguruza. It’s hard to ignore that H2H though…
Anett Kontaveit vs. Ajla Tomljanovic: I had Anisimova vs. Sabalenka in my Draw Chal 🤣. Tomljanovic scored her first top 10 win since beating Radwanska at the French. I think her rise up the rankings post-shoulder injury has been highly underrated. Kontaveit came back from 2-4 down in the decider to beat Anisimova which was a quality win. It’s a first time meeting (ring the bells!) so there’s no data to go on. My instinct is for Kontaveit to win in three.
Angelique Kerber vs. Bianca Andreescu: Match of the day takes place at night with a rematch of last week’s Indian Wells final! I’m amazed that Andreescu has made it to the third round of Miami. She saved a match point to beat Begu in the first round and then rather comfortably beat Kenin which I really wasn’t expecting, despite telling myself not to discount Andreescu 😂. Kerber started slow against Muchova but played a fine match to come through in three. She had to play well to overcome Muchova. I think both have some physical complaints – Andreescu said in her press conference that her shoulder is tight, while Kerber had a MTO for a leg/hip injury. Coin toss for me… i’d probably go 52-48 in favour of Kerber. I think the court/conditions will favour Kerber more and Andreescu will have to work much harder to get the ball up high on Kerber’s backhand.
Petra Kvitova vs. Donna Vekic: Kvitova will be seeking to turn the tables on a straight sets loss to Vekic earlier this year in St. Pete. I thought Kvitova played a solid match against Sakkari in the second round and that the court is much more favourable to her game compared to Indian Wells. Since that finals run in St. Pete, Vekic has been quite inconsistent. I’m going for Petra.
Julia Goerges vs. Caroline Garcia: A big chance to Goerges and Garcia to kick-start their year with a last 16 showing at Premier Mandatory. I didn’t watch either of their second rounders so i’m in the dark. Garcia has won both their previous matches. I don’t have any strong opinions with this match, better player on the day will win 🤔😂.
Ash Barty vs. Sam Stosur: Nice to see an all-Aussie clash. Stosur won their only previous meeting at this tournament back in Miami, 6-4 6-4. I think this match will show how far Barty has come. Thrilled for Stosur to get a win over Keys but i’ll be surprised if she can challenge Barty right now who is just so damn consistent! Barty in straights.
Kiki Bertens vs. Viktoria Kuzmova: Hipster match of the day and a repeat from Dubai where Kuzmova scored her first ever top 10 win, 6-2 4-6 7-6(6). Kuzmova had a gruelling win over Pavs in the second round – a good win, but she took the scenic route having been up 5-1 in the opener. Bertens is quietly ticking along, constantly producing solid performances. I’m excited to see what she will do on the clay this year. I’d definitely fancy her to pick up a big title somewhere. I think this will be another close match between the pair. Leaning towards Bertens for the win.
Saturday’s R3 polls
Friday’s R2 matches
I wish I could write about more matches because it’s an exciting schedule but I just don’t have time. Here’s my highlights for tonight…
Anett Kontaveit vs. Amanda Anisimova: I actually think Kontaveit has been playing at a high level this year. This isn’t necessarily reflected in her results for 2019. Worth noting is that all of Kontaveit’s losses have come against top 40 players. Anisimova’s win over Petkovic felt rather normal and a marker to how well established she has got on the WTA tour, even at 17 years old. The pair have never played each other before. I’d probably give the edge to AA. Very interested to see how this match unfolds!
Jelena Ostapenko vs. Marketa Vondrousova: By all accounts, Vondrousova and Ostapenko played a brilliant match last week in Indian Wells. I didn’t watch it so I will make an effort to catch this one! Vondrousova won, 4-6 6-3 6-4. The only big limits to Vondrousova IMO are her health as she has battled injuries during the past year. I think her game has so much potential and she will be a seed for the Slams very soon. I’ve not seen enough of Ostapenko this year to have a valid opinion about her form. I am favouring Vondrousova again in this match-up.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Viktoria Kuzmova: I’d tag this one with an upset alert. 50-50 coin toss IMO.
Angelique Kerber vs. Karolina Muchova: I’m really looking forward to this match! Muchova is such a classy player and I think she could be great. I feel like she could become where Barty is now. The Czech player should crack the world’s top 100 in next week’s rankings and therefore, will hopefully start to play some of the bigger tournaments. I think it’s probably too early to be touting Muchova for the upset here but I think she will at least give Kerber a competitive match.
Daria Kasatkina vs. Cori Gauff: Really want to watch this one too! I’ve never seen Gauff play before but i’ve heard so much. All i’ll say is I am worried for Dasha in this match-up based on her recent form and where her confidence seems to be.
Sofia Kenin vs. Bianca Andreescu: What Andreescu has managed to achieve already in Miami, considering she must be exhausted, is already impressive! The last time Andreescu lost a match it was against… Kenin! They played in Acapulco where Kenin won, 6-4 3-6 7-5. I am starting to learn that writing off Andreescu is a foolish thing to do… but still, can she keep this up?! I would go for Kenin in this match-up, not just because Andreescu is going to be fatigued, but because Kenin is a quality player. I’ve actually got Kenin to the QFs in my draw for Miami.
Wang Qiang vs. Johanna Konta: Same as Pavs-Kuzmova. I’d probably take a whirl and go for Konta.
Thursday’s R2 matches
Petra Kvitova vs. Maria Sakkari: I predicted this match to happen in the third round of Indian Wells with Sakkari winning! That was based mostly on the conditions in Indian Wells. For Kvitova, I never expect much from her results in March – Indian Wells is funky conditions and Miami is normally hot and humid, not conducive to her asthma. I still can’t judge the new conditions in Miami but the court seemed to be the same speed, perhaps faster than the old venue?
Sakkari enjoyed a good win over Olga Danilovic in the first round, which I guess meant a lot because she has been struggling based on results in 2019. I think this is an interesting match and i’d tag it with a mild upset alert. Ultimately i’d go Kvitova in 3, but I think Sakkari is quite a resourceful player and can be a tricky opponent for the power players.
Madison Keys vs. Sam Stosur: Stosur is one of the most match-up driven players so I was interested to see that Stosur leads the head-to-head, 2-0 with two straight set wins. Worth noting though is that the pair haven’t played since 2013 and Keys’s emergence on the tour. Keys lost her opener in Indian Wells to Mona Barthel where she showed her rust and looked very tight and nervous at the end of her match. I wasn’t too concerned in the grand scheme of things because she has played so few matches of late and I think confidence will come from playing more competitive matches. I admire Stosur still plugging away and seemingly enjoy the challenge on tour. However, I’m not convinced she will be consistent enough mentally to challenge Keys for the win.
Caroline Garcia vs. Victoria Azarenka: I remember their last match well from Cincy. It was a high-quality match and little separated the pair. Garcia won in straights, 6-4 7-5. I remember thinking at the time that Azarenka’s level was pretty decent and it felt more mental in terms of a few points here and there and winning the key points. Since then, I think Azarenka dipped, but has then slowly been coming back and playing regularly. The win over Cibulkova yesterday was huge. The confidence is not there yet IMO but I think with more matches that it will come. I still think Azarenka will crack the top 10 again. Garcia has struggled for much of the season and will have been relieved to not see Jennifer Brady in her draw who has beaten her three times this year. I’ve not seen Garcia play this year so I feel a bit in the dark but favouring Azarenka’s upward trajectory this year. I’m going for Azarenka.
Ash Barty vs. Dayana Yastremska: This is my favourite match of the day. Barty has become one of the most consistent players on tour and she is one of the most reliable at defeating players ranked below her and that you would expect her to beat. I thought Barty played very well in Indian Wells. This is an interesting one because peak Yastremska is a real thing and she has such a flashy game. With that comes inconsistency so it’s impossible to predict what level she will bring. The pair have never played before which makes it a more appetising prospect. If Yastremska did come out attacking and hitting winners all over the shop, I would have belief in Barty’s problem solving skills to mix it up and find a way to turn the match on its head. 6th match on court 8 so I don’t think there’s any chance of me seeing this one!
Wednesday’s R1 matches
Victoria Azarenka vs. Dominika Cibulkova: Another challenging draw for both Azarenka and Cibulkova. Domi just hasn’t got going this year – she started in Sydney and I think she was ill after Australia? Azarenka has come a long way already since Australia and played a great match against Serena at Indian Wells. Cibulkova has won their last two matches but they haven’t played in over three years. Azarenka is defending semi-final points from Miami. I think Azarenka will keep progressing and despite some tough names, a workable draw for the Belarusian.
Marketa Vondrousova vs. Barbora Strycova: A delightful sounding match-up. Vondrousova had a superb run in Indian Wells with three top 30 wins and her career best victory over Simona Halep. Strycova’s not done much of note so far this year, only once managing to win back-to-back matches in singles in 2019. Vondrousova won their only previous match-up in Biel back in 2017. I’m a fan of Vondrousova’s tennis and I like how she sits somewhere in between being a counter-puncher and power player. She’s got all the shots and the mentality is improving too. Vondrousova is the form player and tend to think she will get the better of Strycova.
Wednesday R1 polls
Tuesday’s R1 matches
Andrea Petkovic vs. Amanda Anisimova: First time meeting between the pair. I remain high on Anisimova who played a strong opener against Krunic in Indian Wells before losing in the second round to Mertens. Petkovic is still seeking a first top 100 win of 2019. I think Anisimova is still building her experience on the WTA tour circuit so I would expect some inconsistent performances. Petkovic is still a decent competitor but I think Anisimova has so many weapons at her disposal.
Ekaterina Alexandrova vs. Dayana Yastremska: A coin toss, both huge hitters who can blow hot and cold. Alexandrova has had a couple of heartbreakers this year but did bag a big win over Wozniacki in Indian Wells. Yastremska has lost her last two but I don’t think either loss were a cause for concern. Both have won against each other further cementing that this one could swing either way. I’ll go for the Yas.
Viktoria Kuzmova vs. Daria Gavrilova: I like this one! A classic heavy hitter vs. a counter puncher. Gavrilova snapped her losing streak in Indian Wells with two solid wins over Yastremska and Buzarnescu. Kuzmova generally is building together a solid year and seems to be making steady strides in her transition to the WTA tour this year. I’m fascinated to see what the court speed will be like in Miami and it adds another layer of unpredictability to these matches. I do like Kuzmova but edging towards Gavrilova’s gritty defence after last week’s confidence boosting victories.