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Preview: WTA shifts focus to Miami Open

Mar 20, 2017
written by: Kristina Borojevic
written by: Kristina Borojevic
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A mad month of March isn’t for US college basketball alone as the tennis world gets ready to swing from Indian Wells in California, to the Miami Open in Florida for the next WTA Premier Mandatory event.

For Canadians on this first day of spring, it’s time to trade in our snowy roads and dream of white sandy beaches near tennis courts about to provide top notch action.

The WTA draw for the Miami Open has been released and we are preparing for some exciting encounters. With defending-champion Victoria Azarenka out and eight-time champion Serena Williams withdrawn due to injury, it’s anyone’s tournament to win.

To get ready, we break down early round clashes and potential blockbusters.

Early rounds

Racquets 🆙

A post shared by 🎾 Miami Open 🎾 (@miamiopen) on

Eugenie Bouchard will open her campaign against Ashleigh Barty. The winner of this match will face Samantha Stosur in second round action. Bouchard has not won a match in Miami since 2013 when she defeated Shahar Peer in the first round (lost to Maria Sharapova next).

Sara Errani and Belinda Bencic are both currently ranked outside of the Top 100 due to recent struggles. As a result, they drew each other in the first round. We expect many lengthy rallies in this encounter as both women will be trying to get some momentum ahead of the clay season.

Kristina Mladenovic and Heather Watson could meet in the second round. It would be a thrilling re-match of their Acapulco three hour, 32 minute match earlier this year (longest match so far in the 2017 WTA season). Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka may also set an exciting second round encounter.

A fun section of the draw to keep an eye on is the bottom quarter. Wildcard Nicole Gibbs opens against German rising star Carina Witthoeft and the winner of that encounter will face feisty Yulia Putintseva in the next round.

Down the road…

Agnieszka Radwanska has not had much luck to begin the 2017 season and the tough times may continue for her. The 2012 champion is projected to play Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the third round, whom she lost to in the second round of the Australian Open this year.

No. 1 seed Angelique Kerber may meet Russian rising star Daria Kasatkina in the third round. It would be their third encounter this year and the Russian holds a 2-0 record against the world no. 1 thus far. Kerber needs to take advantage of Serena Williams’ absence if she wishes to hold the top ranking spot for much longer.

Projected fourth-round matches include Johanna Konta vs. Madison Keys, Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Caroline Wozniacki, and Indian Wells champion Elena Vesnina vs. Dominika Cibulkova.

Action begins on March 20 at the Miami Open. Click here to view the entire WTA draw.

And for those in Canada unable to get to Miami this week, perhaps a trip to Toronto this summer will suffice. The WTA hits the courts of Toronto’s Aviva Centre this summer for Rogers Cup. A taste of what’s to come in the video below: