WTA Miami Open 2018 Draw Preview and Analysis

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Serena Williams tennis

The tour rolls on after an exciting Indian Wells with the next stop being the Miami Open. Johanna Konta was last year’s winner after defeating Caroline Wozniacki in the final. Although she doesn’t look at her top level yet, Serena Williams will be looking to add to her record haul at this event. She has won 8 times in total with the most recent title coming in 2015.

Check out the Miami 2018 Draw

Simona Halep will once again be top seed as she looks to bounce back from her semi final loss in Indian Wells. The Romanian will have been disappointed to lose to eventual winner Naomi Osaka in the manner she did, winning just three games. She may play Agnieszka Radwanska (currently 5-5 H2H) in round three although that is no guarantee given the Pole’s form of late. The winner of the Kateryna Bondarenko and Alison Van Uytvanck match will be thinking they can pull off a shock against their high ranked opponent. 2016 champion Victoria Azarenka is going to have to work hard early on. She opens against CiCi Bellis with Madison Keys in round two. Keys most recent loss to Danielle Collins doesn’t give much hope that the 14th seed is in great form though.

Julia Goerges will be hoping to bounce back from her early loss at Indian Wells, where she lost to Anastasija Sevastova. The German still looks much improved over the last 12 months and has the power to remain a legitimate threat. Her potential third round opponent, Svetlana Kuznetsova, looks extremely vulnerable having played just 1 match in 2018. Karolina Pliskova, semi finalist last year, was another swept up by Naomi Osaka’s title run. She won just 5 games against the champion, something she will be disappointed about.

The second quarter of the draw is headed by Garbine Muguruza, who has now lost her last two matches. While the first of those doesn’t look so bad now on reflection (l. to Kasatkina, Dubai), the manner in which she did has to be concerning. The Spaniard was beaten 6-1 in the final set of both that match and her Indian Wells loss to Sachia Vickery. After winning Wimbledon last year, it looked like she had rid herself of the inconsistency that plagued her after her first slam win. 2018 suggests it’s not all out of the way just yet. 16 year-old Amanda Anisimova has proven herself to be capable at the highest level already while Barbara Strycova has a 6-1 6-0 win over her just last year.

Seeds Sloane Stephens and Magdalena Rybarikova both hope to make round four after losing early at Indian Wells. Angelique Kerber looked in fine form to begin Indian Wells before being crushed by Kasatkina in the quarter finals, winning just two games against the Russian. She has to be favoured to make it that far once more at least, with Caroline Garcia her toughest rival on paper. She defeated the Frenchwoman 6-1 6-1 at Indian Wells while she also boasts a 6-3 record against Carla Suarez Navarro. Marketa Vondrousova is a live danger as an unseeded player, boasting wins over Johanna Konta and Aryna Sabalenka last week.

The return of Serena Williams has led for many to call for players to be able to maintain their rankings upon return after maternity leave. Those calls have grown louder after she drew the in-form player in round one and a very tough second round opponent should she win. She plays Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka for a spot in round two. Osaka was outstanding at Indian Wells, defeating a whole host of top players and doing so in some style. She dropped just 1 set on her way to the title and did not lose more than 4 games in any set she won. Fourth seed Elina Svitolina is up in round two in what promises to be a great match either way. Svitolina did lose the first four times she played Serena but won their most recent match at the 2016 Olympics. Kristina Mladenovic and Ashleigh Barty will be hoping to spoil the party in round four.

Like at Indian Wells, Petra Kvitova has often struggled to deal with the conditions in Miami. She has only won more than 1 match at the tournament once, doing so on her way to the quarter finals in 2014. Her struggles were there for all to see last week, fighting through against Yulia Putintseva before a straight sets loss to Amanda Anisimova in the next round. Jelena Ostapenko and Daria Kasatkina will be hoping to take advantage as the other top 20 seeds in this section but one of them looks far more ready to do so. Ostapenko has 4 losses in 5 matches while Kasatkina is fresh off a run to the final in Indian Wells. Should she fight off Belinda Bencic in round two, the Russian could well go deep once more.

The final quarter of the draw is headed by second seed Caroline Wozniacki. The Dane will be ruing her inability to hold on to an early lead against Daria Kasatkina, losing to the Russian for the second time in 2018. Her matchup with Anett Kontaveit in round three could be a thriller if the first two matches are anything to go by. They split three-set thrillers on the grass over the past two years, Wozniacki winning the last at Wimbledon. With CoCo Vandeweghe looking poor in her comeback tournament at Indian Wells, there isn’t a great deal for the No.2 to worry about early on by the looks of it.

Venus Williams returned to form at Indian Wells, making the semi final. She did lose to Daria Kasatkina despite being just 2 points from the match when up 5-4 in the decider. A qualifier then Kiki Bertens should be little to worry about for the 2001 Miami champion. Last year’s winner Johanna Konta has not had a great 2018 so far, going 6-6. One of those losses came to wildcard Bernarda Pera, who is a potential third round opponent for her although 22nd seed Elise Mertens seems more likely. The Belgian is on a three match losing streak though, seemingly suffering from post-Australian Open blues.

Prediction
SF: Simona Halep def. Angelique Kerber
SF: Elina Svitolina def. Venus Williams
F: Simona Halep def. Elina Svitolina

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