Jelena Ostapenko vs Sloane Stephens, Miami Final Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 Final 🏆 Preview
🇱🇻 (5) Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇺🇸 (13) Sloane Stephens

A blockbuster final at the Miami Open sees a pair of reigning Grand Slam champions collide when Jelena Ostapenko comes up against Sloane Stephens. Ostapenko and Stephens have followed similar paths of late, both struggled early in the year but both have come good in Miami in a big way. Interestingly this will be the first career meeting between Ostapenko and Stephens, it will be fascinating to see how this match-up pans out especially given how well both generally play on the big stage.

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Ostapenko arrived in Miami with a losing record to her name in 2018. The Latvian has really ignited her season in Miami, rocketing her way through to the final without dropping a set. Ostapenko started the event with a couple of hard fought victories over Timea Babos and Beatriz Haddad Maia. The reigning Roland Garros champion made her big move with back-to-back wins over top 10 opponents as she beat Petra Kvitova 7-6 6-3 and Elina Svitolina 7-6 7-6. Ostapenko confirmed her spot in a fourth career final with a hard-fought 7-6 6-3 win over Danielle Collins.

Ostapenko’s ability to raise her level under pressure has been the most impressive part of her run to the final. The 20-year-old has a perfect 5-0 record in tiebreaks in Miami, her brave tennis under pressure has been rewarded just as it was at Roland Garros last year.




Sloane Stephens has been equally impressive on route to the final. In the early rounds Stephens claimed a comfortable straight set win over Ajla Tomljanovic and a hard-fought 3 set over Monica Niculescu. Like Ostapenko, Stephens then claimed back-to-back straight set wins over top 10 opponents, beating Garbine Muguruza 6-3 6-4 and Angelique Kerber 6-1 6-2. Stephens confirmed her spot in Saturday’s Miami Open final with a 3-6 6-2 6-1 win over Victoria Azarenka, Stephens came from a set and a break down, winning 12 of the last 13 games to storm into her first final since the U.S Open last year.

This promises to be an extremely entertaining final, Ostapenko and Stephens have proven to be big game players in the last 12 months, both have played their best tennis of the biggest stages. Who will step up and claim the 2018 Miami Open title?

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Jelena Ostapenko vs Danielle Collins, Miami SF Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 SF Preview
🇱🇻 (5) Jelena Ostapenko vs. 🇺🇸 (Q) Danielle Collins

Thursday’s second semi-final from the Miami Open will feature an unexpected match-up as reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko comes up against local qualifier Danielle Collins. Ostapenko has powered through the draw, defeating 2 top 10 opponents in row to reach the final 4 in Miami. Collins has also been impressive, collecting 7 victories on route to the semi-finals having come through the qualifying draw. Ostapenko had never previously won a match in Miami before this event whilst Collins is the first qualifier to ever reach the semi-final stage in Miami, two unlikely semi-finalists.

It has been a frustrating start to the year for Ostapenko but everything is falling into place for the world number 5 in Miami. Ostapenko arrived in Miami with a modest 4-7 win/loss record to her name in 2018 and had not even beaten a top 50 opponent. In Miami the Latvian has beaten 3 top 50 opponents, including 2 top 10 opponents. Ostapenko received a bye through the opening round before beating Timea Babos 6-4 6-4 and Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2 7-6. Ostapenko has really raised her level in her last couple of wins, a 7-6 6-3 win over Petra Kvitova and 7-6 7-6 over Elina Svitolina. The 20-year-old’s victories over Kvitova and Svitolina were both in difficult windy conditions, Ostapenko showed good mental fortitude to come out on top in all the critical moments in both of those matches.

The rise of Danielle Collins has been gobsmacking. Collins started the month having never won a main draw match of a WTA tour level event. Collins went on to reach the round of 16 in Indian Wells and is now into the semi-finals in Miami, meaning Collins is on the verge of reaching the top 50 in the rankings.

It has been a long journey to the semi-final stage for Collins. It started with straight set wins over Tereza Smitkova and Jana Cepelova in the qualifying draw and a comfortable opening round win over Irina-Camelia Begu. Collins battled through the middle stages of the event with 3 set wins over CoCo Vandeweghe, Donna Vekic and Monica Puig. Collins produced her most impressive performance of the event and indeed her entire career at the quarter-final stage as she easily disposed of Venus Williams, a 6-2 6-3 victory in her first match on the Stadium court. Collins could do nothing wrong, everything she tried worked on the night.

Thursday night’s semi-final will be the first tour level meeting between Ostapenko and Collins. Can Collins keep her dream run alive or will Ostapenko be too strong?

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Sloane Stephens vs Victoria Azarenka, Miami SF Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 SF Preview
🇺🇸 (13) Sloane Stephens vs. 🇧🇾 (wc) Victoria Azarenka

A blockbuster semi-final clash at the Miami Open sees reigning U.S open champion Sloane Stephens take on 3-time former Miami Open champion Victoria Azarenka. Stephens and Azarenka have both played scintillating tennis in their last couple of matches on route to the final 4 stage, both enter this match desperate to reach a big final for the first time in a while. This promises to be a thrilling match, who will prevail?

This has been an important event for both Stephens and Azarenka. Sloane Stephens is into her first semi-final since winning the U.S Open last year whilst Azarenka will be competing in her first semi-final since her title run in Miami back in 2016.

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Sloane Stephens has cruised past two quality opponents in a row to reach the semi-final stage in Miami. Stephens claimed straight set victories over Garbine Muguruza (6-3 6-4) and Angelique Kerber (6-1 6-2), back-to-back wins over top 10 opponents to ensure that Stephens herself will reach the top 10 for the first time when the latest rankings come out next week. Earlier in the event Stephens thrashed Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets and came from a set down to defeat Monica Niculescu. This is clearly the best tennis Sloane has played since her heroics at the U.S Open last year.

Amazingly Stephens has a 22-5 win-loss record in North American over the past year whilst in any other country she has a 0-9 win-loss record. Clearly the reigning U.S Open champion saves her best tennis for her home continent…

Victoria Azarenka is on an 11-match winning streak in Miami. Alongside the Australian Open it would be fair to say that the Miami Open is the most successful tournament for the 3-time former champion. Like Stephens, Azarenka has ripped through two quality opponents in a row to reach the semi-finals. A 6-2 6-2 win over Agnieszka Radwanska and a 7-5 6-3 win over Karolina Pliskova. Azarenka’s return of serve has been particularly damaging, the Belarussian has consistently been at the top of the return points won standings this tournament.

Azarenka holds a 3-1 head-to-head record over Stephen. It was Azarenka who won the first three matches between the pair, all in straight sets at the Australian Open between 2013 and 2015. However, most recently it was Stephens who prevailed 6-1 7-5 just a few weeks ago in Indian Wells. There is certainly an underlying tension between these two, they do not particularly like each other and will both be desperate to win Thursday’s clash in Miami. Expect fireworks.

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Naomi Osaka vs Serena Williams, Miami R1 Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 R1 Preview
🇯🇵 Naomi Osaka vs. 🇺🇸 (wc) Serena Williams

The pick of the opening round clashes at the Miami Open sees the newly crowned Indian Wells champion: Naomi Osaka, come up against 8 time former Miami champion: Serena Williams. This is by far the toughest opening round match-up in the draw, a brutal match-up for both. This will be the first career meeting between Osaka and Williams, an intriguing clash between the future and the present/past of women’s tennis. In many ways, there are real similarities between Osaka and a young Williams, similar strengths and power. Also linking the pair is the fact that Osaka’s coach is Serena’s long time former hitting partner Sascha Bajin. Intriguing indeed.

Naomi Osaka of Japan in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Naomi Osaka arrives in Miami on a high after winning the first title of her career at the premier mandatory level event in Indian Wells. It was an outstanding event for Osaka, the 20-year-old handily beat multiple quality opponents on route to the title, winning 7 consecutive matches for the first time in her career. Osaka claimed wins over Sharapova, Radwanska, Vickery, Sakkari, Pliskova, Halep and Kasatkina. A list that includes wins over 3 former/current number 1’s. The way in which Osaka cruised through her last 3 matches in straight sets dropping a combined 13 games was exceptionally impressive, especially given Osaka’s inexperience at later stages of big events. Osaka showed consistency, patience and maturity that we have not seen from her before. It will be interesting to see how Osaka responds after such an amazing event.

Serena Williams made her much anticipated return to the WTA tour in Indian Wells. The 23-time Grand Slam champion managed to win a couple of matches in her first tournament in over a year, her first tournament since giving birth. Serena claimed straight set wins over Zarina Diyas and Kiki Bertens before succumbing to Venus Williams in straight sets. Overall it was a positive week for Serena who showed that it will not be long before she returns to the top of the game. Miami is a second home to Serena Williams, the 36-year-old has won the Miami Open on 8 previous occasions, most recently in 2015. `After a reasonably early exit in Indian Wells expect Serena to be extremely motivated heading into Miami.




It will be interesting to see what type of level Osaka can bring to this match, if she plays how she did throughout the last couple of weeks in Indian Wells then she has a great chance of pushing Serena Williams. However, replicating her Indian Wells level in Miami will be a tough, that’s for sure, getting passed a determined Serena will also be very tough.

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Lesia Tsurenko vs Ajla Tomljanovic, Miami R1 Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 R1 Preview
🇺🇦 Lesia Tsurenko vs. 🇦🇺 (wc) Ajla Tomljanovic

Lesia Tsurenko and Ajla Tomljanovic will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the opening round stage of the Miami Open. Tsurenko made a disappointing opening round exit last week in Indian Wells having arrived at the event on the back of winning the title in Acapulco. Perhaps Tsurenko was tired heading to Indian Wells, after a good rest she will look to rebound strongly in Miami against a very beatable opponent.

For the second year in a row Tsurenko won the title in Acapulco before heading straight to Indian Wells for an opening round exit. Tsurenko was heavily favoured to defeat Lara Arruabarrena but was outplayed in a gruelling 3 set encounter to ensure another early exit from the BNP Paribas Open. Tsurenko will be hoping for a much better result in Miami, especially given the great tennis she displayed on route to the title in Acapulco a few weeks ago.

Ajla Tomljanovic has won just 1 WTA tour level main draw match in 2018, that was a very favourable opening round draw against Destanee Aiava in the first week of the year in Brisbane. Tomljanovic did manage to reach the semi-finals of the 125K event in Indian Wells a few weeks ago but failed to qualify for the main event as she lost to Sara Sorribes Tormo in the final round of qualifying for the BNP Paribas Open.




It will be interesting to see how this match-up pans out in the first career meeting between the pair.

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Madison Brengle vs Aryna Sabalenka, Miami R1 Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 R1 Preview
🇺🇸 Madison Brengle vs 🇧🇾 Aryna Sabalenka

Madison Brengle and Aryna Sabalenka will go head-to-head for the first time when they meet at the opening round stage of the 2018 Miami Open. This will be a fascinating encounter because of the extreme contrast in styles and personalities. Brengle is a very defensive player with not many weapons at her disposal whilst Sabalenka is as aggressive as it gets and has damaging weapons. Brengle will look to make life tough for Sabalenka by throwing all types of looks at the Belarusian, can Sabalenka maintain her composure and get passed the American?

Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Madison Brengle is yet to claim a main draw victory at the WTA tour level in 2018. Brengle managed to fight through the qualifying draw in Indian Wells but was eliminated in the opening round of the main draw by Marketa Vondrousova, a fairly uncompetitive 2-6 2-6 defeat for the American. Brengle’s best result of late was her triumph at the ITF 100K event in Midland early last month. Brengle has had some decent results in Miami in the past, including a third round appearance in 2016, the conditions in Miami are pretty good for Brengle.

Aryna Sabalenka continues to rise. Sabalenka had a decent week in Indian Wells, claiming straight set victories over Varvara Lepchenko and Svetlana Kuznetsova before succumbing to Marketa Vondrousova in the third round. Sabalenka’s win over Kuznetsova was a notable one, even though it was Kuznetsova first match of the season, Kuznetsova is always tough to beat. Sabalenka’s talent is undeniable but her shot selection and ability to control her immense power is still a big work in progress.




In the first career meeting between the pair, this is a good match-up for Sabalenka to display her improvement. There is no doubt that Sabalenka has all the weapons to handily defeat Brengle but Sabalenka can lose control in these match-ups against defensive players and hand her opponent victory with unforced errors.

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Catherine Bellis vs Victoria Azarenka, Miami R1 Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌞🐬🌴 R1 Preview
🇺🇸 Catherine Bellis vs. 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka

Two-time former champion: Victoria Azarenka will begin her 2018 Miami Open campaign with a difficult opening round clash against American rising-star: Catherine Bellis. Azarenka made her much anticipated return to the tour in Indian Wells where she was eliminated in the second round. Azarenka will be keen to build on that result and have a better result in Miami but Bellis has generally been in good form of late and has shown that she is capable of defeating more credentialed opponents.

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Bellis and Azarenka both arrive in Miami on the back of second round exits at the BNP Paribas Open. Bellis started her campaign with a comfortable straight set win over Sara Sorribes Tormo before giving up a 1 set lead to succumb to defending champion Elena Vesnina in 3 sets. Bellis has had some great results of late, most notably her run through the qualifying draw to the quarter-finals in Doha which included wins over Daria Kasatkina, Madison Keys and Karolina Pliskova. Still in her teens, it is understandable that Bellis is quite inconsistent.

Azarenka started her Indian Wells campaign with a commanding straight set win over Heather Watson in what was her first competitive match since Wimbledon last year. Unfortunately for Azarenka her level is the second round was far from her best as she suffered a straight set loss to Sloane Stephens. Overall, it was a mixed week for Vika, she showed some good signs but her convincing loss to Stephens was quite uncharacteristic. In general, I think Azarenka looked good and will quickly rise back up the rankings. Azarenka knows she has a lot to work on and is determined to climb back to the top of women’s tennis. Azarenka will head to Miami determined to make amends for that loss to Stephens as she continues this new stage of her career.




The only previous match between the pair took place at the opening round stage of Wimbledon last year, Azarenka claimed a 3-6 6-2 6-1 victory on that occasion.

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Kristina Mladenovic vs Jennifer Brady, Roland Garros R1 Preview

Roland Garros, 🇫🇷🐌 R1 Preview + Prediction
(13) 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic vs 🇺🇸 Jennifer Brady

Kristina Mladenovic enters Roland Garros on high and with the weight of a nation on her shoulders. Expectations have never been higher for Mladenovic heading into her home Grand Slam. Mladenovic recently reached a career high ranking of 14 in the world after a stunning run of form that saw her reach back-to-back finals in Stuttgart and Madrid. The Frenchwoman will begin her Roland Garros campaign on Monday where she will come up against American Jennifer Brady.

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Caroline Wozniacki vs Johanna Konta, Miami Final Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌴🐬🏆 Championship Match Preview
(12) 🇩🇰 Caroline Wozniacki vs (10) 🇬🇧 Johanna Konta

A blockbuster final at the Miami sees Caroline Wozniacki and Johanna Konta go head-to-head. This will be the second clash between the pair in 2017, Konta thrashed Wozniacki 6-3 6-1 at the Australian Open this year, Wozniacki is in much better form heading into this match so one would expect this match to be much tighter. Wozniacki is into her third final of the year but still looking for her first title whilst Konta won her only final of the year in Sydney.

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Venus Williams vs Johanna Konta, Miami SF Preview

Miami Open, 🇺🇸🌴🐬 SF Match Preview
(11) 🇺🇸 Venus Williams vs (10) 🇬🇧 Johnna Konta

Venus Williams and Johanna Konta will go head-to-head in the second semi-final of the day at the Miami Open in what promises to be an extremely tight contest between two very evenly matched opponents. Venus Williams is having an amazing season, especially considering she is often the oldest player in these big events. Johanna Konta is also in great form and will enter this match with a heap of confidence given she defeated Venus in their two previous matches.

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