With a wild start to the Miami Open in the women’s side, the draw has opened up especially in the top half. Anett Kontaveit, Karolina Pliskova, Aryna Sabalenka and Leylah Fernandez will all second round losers to there is a great opportunity for the winner of this clash between Karolina Muchova and Naomi Osaka to go deep and possibly even make the final.
Muchova would likely have been gearing up for a Top 10 charge in 2022 if things had gone her way but injury meant she did not play between the US Open and this tournament – seeing her fall to outside the top 70. It looks like she has never been away with two impressive wins, beating Tereza Martincova and Leylah Fernandez in straight sets. “[After an injury] you can do whatever fitness, but the match is something else. For me it was a win just to play and compete again.” she said after the latter win.
Osaka may be looking at the retirement of Ashleigh Barty in one of two ways – in what to do if the court is not enjoyable or as an opportunity to an establish herself as dominant once more. She cruised past Angelique Kerber 6-2 6-3 in the second round, a good result an opponent she went into the match 1-4 against. The serve was also working with just three points lost on first serve from four-time slam winner. “I feel like I came into the match wanting to dictate. My power on the shots was working really well.” she said
Osaka will go into this one the favourite and the hope will be that she is ready to return to her highest level. There are few better when she is fully fit and happy on court. Muchova is a dangerous opponent being able to mix power and variety but it seems like her lack of match sharpness should catch up sooner rather than later. With the winner playing even Ann Li or Alison Riske in the fourth round, they will feel they have huge chances to make at least the quarter finals.
Prediction – Naomi Osaka in straight sets