Barty Bids to Retain Title

The WTA circuit heads to Miami with an impressive field taking part. The Miami Open runs from March 23 to April 3 with the defending champion being world number one Ashleigh Barty.

Seedings

1 Ashleigh Barty

2 Naomi Osaka

3 Simona Halep

4 Sofia Kenin

5 Elina Svitolina

6 Karolina Pliskova

7 Serena Williams - withdrawn

8 Aryna Sabalenka

9 Bianca Andreescu

10 Petra Kvitova

11 Kiki Bertens

12 Belinda Bencic

13 Garbine Muguruza

14 Jennifer Brady

15 Victoria Azarenka

16 Iga Swiatek

Seeded Quarter Finals

Ashleigh Barty v Ayrna Sabalenka

Simona Halep v Elena Svitolina

Bianca Andreescu v Sofia Kenin

Karolina Pliskova v Naomi Osaka

Some interesting battles are due after the draw was announced. Iga Swiatek could face Simona Halep in the last 16.  The Pole may have a tough first match of the week though. Recent Dubai finalist, Barbora Krejcikova is a likely first opponent. Win that match and Madison Keys might be waiting in the next round. Halep hasn't got an easy draw either with Coco Gauff a possible third round opponent.

Garbine Muguruza is in top form and is seeded to face Bianca Andreescu in the last 16. With Jennifer Brady possibly facing Sofia Kenin in the same round, some shocks could be on the way. 

Jessica Pegula is seeded 29th for this tournament. The American has been causing plenty of upsets this year. Karolina Pliskova is scheduled to be her opponent in the last 32.

Ashleigh Barty won't have it all her own way if taking on Victoria Azarenka in the last 16, so will need to be at the top of her game early on in this tournament.

 

The Contenders

Ashleigh Barty

The Australian won this title in 2019 when these championships were last played. Barty beat Karolina Pliskova in the final to win the title. The world number one missed most of last year, unwilling to play during the pandemic. 

This year saw her return to the circuit and won the Yarra Valley Classic, beating Garbine Muguruza in the final. Her wait for a maiden Australian Open title continues though. Barty made it to the quarter finals but was beaten in three sets (she won the first one) by unseeded Karolina Muchova. She's only played one tournament since then and lost to Danielle Collins in her first match.

Naomi Osaka

It's already been a successful 2021 for Osaka with success at the Australian Open. Before that, the Japanese world number 2 had made it to the Gippsland Trophy semi-final but withdrew. With no tournament appearances since winning that Grand Slam, Osaka remains unbeaten this year.

2020 had a good end to it as well with her winning the US Open in New York. When she gets on court, the only loss she's had in her last 17 matches was to Victoria Azarenka. That was in the Western & Southern final played in late August 2020. Osaka should be well rested after her Australian Open efforts and will be hard to beat in this tournament.

Simona Halep

Halep has made it to two semi-finals in Miami. Her most recent was in the last holding of this event two years ago. Halep lost to Karolina Pliskova in straight sets, so will be out to get to that first final this year.

This is only her third event of the year, so should be ready for battle. Both of her other tournaments were played in Australia. Halep reached the quarter final of the Gippsland Trophy, losing to Ekaterina Alexandrova. In the Australian Open, she beat Iga Swiatek in the last 16 before being beaten in the last eight by Serena Williams, winning six games. If in form this week, a good run is likely.

Garbine Muguruza

The Spaniard is only seeded 13th for this Miami Open but is a major threat. Muguruza is second behind Naomi Osaka in the Porsche Singles Race, based on points earned this year. This is the sixth tournament Muguruza has played this year.

It's been highly successful for her with three of her five tournaments seeing her reach the final. After losses in the Yarra Valley Classic (to Barty) and the Qatar Total Open (to Kvitova), Muguruza won the Dubai Tennis Championships. A straight sets win over Barbora Krejcikova saw her win the title. The Australian Open saw her lose in the last 16. The Spaniard showed what good form she is in though, taking eventual winner Naomi Osaka to three sets. With a week off since her Dubai victory, Muguruza will again be a danger to all.

Petra Kvitova

The number ten seed has had a mixed 2021. Only the second round was reached at the Australian Open, losing to Sorana Cristea from Romania. This month saw her win the Qatar Total Open, beating Garbine Muguruza in the final for the loss of just three games. The following week, Kvitova lost to Jil Tiechmann in her first match. If in form again in Miami, a good week could he had.

Others to Consider

It's never that easy to predict a women's singles. Mind you, some men's tournaments aren't that easy either. There are several players who could well have a good run in Miami. Players such as Sofia Kenin, Karolina Pliskova and Elena Svitolina have had poor form of late, perhaps a return to better days is just around the corner.

Aryna Sabalenka won in Abu Dhabi in January but since then, her best was the quarter final in Dubai. Iga Swiatek has to be feared if in form. The 2020 French Open champion won in Adelaide this year and took Simona Halep to three sets in the Australian Open.

 

 

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