In what looks to be the standout match of the women’s tournament to date, Venus Williams will take on Svetlana Kuznetsova in a battle of the former Miami Open champs. Venus is a three time winner while Kuznetsova’s sole title came in 2006 although 10 years later she was a losing finalist against Victoria Azarenka.
Kuznetsova should really be coming into this event on an 8 match winning streak given the position she held in last week’s Indian Wells final. She held a set and 4-1 lead over Elena Vesnina but could not close it out, eventually falling in three sets in a 3 hour thriller. Kuznetsova hopes to go one better than last year and has gone about things well in the first two rounds, although it is to be expected that Mandy Minella and Taylor Townsend would be little trouble for the Russian, even on many of her bad days.
Meanwhile, Venus really should have lost in round one last week but escaped against Jelena Jankovic and made it to the quarter finals as a result. She eventually ran out of steam against the champion Elena Vesnina but she too has made light work of a weak opening couple of rounds. Beatriz Haddad Maia and Patricia Maria Tig were both defeated in straight sets.
For a couple of 30+ vets, it’s quite surprising that the pair have played just 9 times in their career. Other than Kuznetsova’s routine win in Wuhan last year, all of them were in the last decade with the Wuhan win the decisive factor in their overall head to head at 5-4. Kuznetsova will fancy her chances after their last meeting as well as the conditions seemingly favouring her more once again.
Prediction – Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets