Simona Halep vs. Karolina Pliskova, Miami SF Preview

🇺🇸🐬 Miami Open, SF #2 Preview
🇷🇴 (2) Simona Halep vs. 🇨🇿 (5) Karolina Pliskova

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova will renew hostilities when they do battle on Thursday evening with a spot in the Miami Open final up for grabs. Halep and Pliskova are familiar foes, this will be the 10th career meeting between the two former world number 1’s. Halep has been fairly dominant in this match-up in recent times and looks set to continue that dominance in Miami.

Simona Halep of Romania in action during her quarter-final match at the 2019 Miami Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Simona Halep is just 1 victory away from recapturing the world number 1 ranking and reaching her first Miami final. Halep’s form has generally been good over the last few months, the only thing missing is a title, that should change over the next few days. Halep started her Miami campaign with a commanding straight set win over Taylor Townsend before battling past Polona Hercog 6-7 7-6 6-2 in what was her biggest test of the event so far. Halep booked her spot in the final 4 with straight set wins over Venus Williams and Qiang Wang.

Karolina Pliskova is through to yet another Miami semi-final. Pliskova hasn’t always done things the easy way on route to the final 4. Pliskova started the event with a fairly comfortable straight set win over Petra Martic before coming from a set down to defeat Alize Cornet and Yulia Putintseva. Pliskova produced a far more consistent performance to secure her semi-final spot as she defeated Marketa Vondrousova 6-3 6-4.

Halep holds a 7-2 head-to-head record over Pliskova. Halep has won 4 of the last 5 matches between the pair including a 6-4 5-7 6-4 victory in their most recent match during a Fed Cup tie earlier this year. Halep holds an overall 6-1 record over Pliskova on hard courts.

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Ashleigh Barty vs. Anett Kontaveit, Miami SF Preview

🇺🇸🐬 Miami Open, SF #1 Preview
🇦🇺 (12) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇪🇪 (21) Anett Kontaveit

Ashleigh Barty and Anett Kontaveit will both be playing to reach the biggest final of their careers when they do battle at the semi-final stage of the 2019 Miami Open. Barty and Kontaveit both came through tough quarter-final matches and are seemingly both in great shape heading into this match, expect a close one between two players on the rise.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia in action during her quarter-final match at the 2019 Miami Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

The knock on Ash Barty heading into 2019 was that she didn’t play her best tennis on the biggest stages, that is starting to change for Barty and she is now within touching distance of the biggest title of her career in Miami. Barty cruised through her first couple of matches in Miami with straight set wins over Dayana Yastremska and Sam Stosur. Things got much tougher for Barty in her last couple of matches as she fought past Kiki Bertens and Petra Kvitova in 3 sets. Barty’s 7-6 3-6 6-2 win over Kvitova to book her place in the final 4 was particularly impressive, her first win over Kvitova in 5 attempts.

Anett Kontaveit is having her best tournament of the season thus far as she is through to her first semi-final of the year and the biggest of her career. Kontaveit started her Miami campaign with back-to-back 3 set wins, the Estonian defeated Amanda Anisimova 6-3 1-6 6-4 before battling past Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6 2-6 7-6. Kontaveit benefited from the retirement of Bianca Andreescu in the fourth round and went on to secure her spot in the final 4 with an impressive 3-6 6-2 7-5 win over Su-Wei Hsieh. Kontaveit was in real trouble against Hsieh when she trailed 0-4 in the deciding set but picked her game to storm to victory with 7 of the last 8 games.

The only previous match between the pair took place back in 2014 at the final qualifying round of Wimbledon, it was Kontaveit who won a tight one, 6-7 6-3 6-4. The pair have both improved dramatically since their last meeting, it will be interesting to see how the match-ups pans out this time around.

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Ashleigh Barty vs. Dayana Yastremska, Miami R2 Preview

🇺🇸🐬 Miami Open, R2 Preview
🇦🇺 (12) Ashleigh Barty vs. 🇺🇦 Dayana Yastremska

Ash Barty and Dayana Yastremska will go head-to-head for the very first time in an intriguing second round match-up from the Miami Open in Thursday. Barty has been one of the most consistent players on tour in 2019 but will likely face a tough first-up test against Yastremska in Miami, Yastremska is a player on the rise with a an aggressive game and bold attitude.

Dayana Yastremska of the Ukraine in action during her first-round match at the 2019 Miami Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Barty has made a great start to 2019, highlighted by a run to the final in Sydney and her first Grand Slam quarter-final appearance at the Australian Open. However, Barty arrives in Miami fresh from a bitterly disappointing fourth round loss to Elina Svitolina in Indian Wells. Barty squandered several leads in her loss to Svitolina in what stands as the longest match of the season thus far, it will be interesting to see how Barty responds from that tough loss in Miami.

Yastremska has also made a great start to the season, highlighted by her title run in Hua Hin last month. However, Yastremska has struggled Since winning the title in Hua Hin, suffering opening round exits in Dubai and Indian Wells. Yastremska got back on the winners list in Miami with a fairly comfortable 6-3 6-2 triumph over Ekaterina Alexandrova.

This will be the first meeting between Barty and Yastremska, a match-up with an interesting contrast in styles. The all-court game of Barty up against the extreme baseline power of Yastremska.

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Caroline Garcia vs. Victoria Azarenka, Miami R2 Preview

🇺🇸🐬 Miami Open, R2 Preview
🇫🇷 (19) Caroline Garcia vs. 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka continues her Miami Open campaign with a second round match-up against the 19th seeded Caroline Garcia on Thursday. Azarenka is starting to build some momentum in season 2019, the former Miami champion started the tournament with a gutsy 3 set win over Dominika Cibulkova and will fancy her chances against the out of form Frenchwoman.

Garcia has generally made a very poor start to the season and is in desperate need of a big win. Garcia has only won 3 tour level matches this year, only one of those was against an opponent in the top 100. Garcia has already lost to Jennifer Brady on 3 occasions this year, including in her opening round match-up with the American in Indian Wells a few weeks ago, simply not good enough given Garcia’s potential.

Azarenka is on the rise. The Belarusian has had a good couple of weeks and is seemingly on the verge of going on a deep run at a big tournament, perhaps here in Miami. Azarenka showed glimpses of her best in her last few events in Acapulco and Indian Wells, especially in her epic contest with Serena Williams in Indian Wells. The former number 1 was forced to dig deep in a rough opening round match-up with Dominika Cibulkova in Miami, Azarenka eventually came out on top 6-2 3-6 6-4.

It was Garcia who won the only previous match between the pair, a 6-4 7-5 victory in Cincinnati last year.

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Yulia Putintseva vs. Kirsten Flipkens, Miami R1 Preview

🇺🇸🐬 Miami Open, R1 Preview
🇰🇿 Yulia Putintseva vs. 🇧🇪 Kirsten Flipkens

An interesting first round match-up at the 2019 Miami Open sees Yulia Putintseva take on Kirsten Flipkens. This is a match-up that will feature a heap of variety and fun shot-making. Flipkens is one of the craftiest players on tour whilst Putintseva is one of the quickest and is quite crafty herself, this will be a fun one.

Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan in action during her second-round match at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Putintseva made a decent start to the year in Australia, highlighted by a run to the quarter-finals in Sydney. However, Putintseva’s momentum has come to halt over the last few months as she has won just 1 match since the Australian Open. That lone victory was in Indian Wells where the Kazakh beat Timea Babos in straight sets before being smashed by Angelique Kerber in the second round 0-6 2-6.

Flipkens has also struggled to build any momentum in recent times as she too has just won 1 match since the Australian Open. Flipkens’ sole win since the Australian Open also came in Indian Wells, it was a notable 3 set victory over Eugenie Bouchard in the opening round before the Belgian succumbed to Danielle Collins in straight sets in the second round.

Flipkens won the only completed match between the pair, a 7-5 6-4 victory at Wimbledon in 2013.

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Victoria Azarenka vs. Dominika Cibulkova, Miami R1 Preview

🇺🇸🐬 Miami Open, R1 Preview
🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka vs. 🇸🇰 Dominika Cibulkova

Victoria Azarenka and Dominika Cibulkova will go head-to-head in the pick of the opening round matches at the 2019 Miami Open. Azarenka and Cibulkova are both ranked well below their best at the moment for a variety of reasons and will see this opening round match-up as a great opportunity to gain much needed momentum as the season heats up.

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action during her second-round match at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Azarenka has shown signs of a form reversal in recent times. The former world number 1 made a solid run to the Acapulco quarter-finals last month before contesting an epic second round match with Serena Williams in Indian Wells a few weeks ago. Though Azarenka lost out to Williams in straight sets, the match was certainly a step in the right direction for Azarenka given she arguably played the best tennis we have seen from her in the last couple of years in what was one of the best matches of the season thus far.

2019 has been a real struggle for Cibulkova. The Slovakian has won just 1 match this year and desperately needs to turn things around as soon as possible. To be fair, Cibulkova has been dealt some brutal draws this year, just as she has in Miami with this first round clash against Azarenka. Cibulkova arrives in Miami on the back of an opening round exit in Indian Wells where she was comfortably beaten by the eventual champion Bianca Andreescu in straight sets.

Azarenka and Cibulkova are familiar foes, however they haven’t gone head-to-head much in recent times. Azarenka holds a 7-3 record over Cibulkova, but it was Cibulkova who won their last couple of matches, including a 6-2 3-6 6-3 win at the Australian Open in 2015 in their most recent meeting.

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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.

Embed from Getty Images

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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