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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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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Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka, Indian Wells R2 Preview

🇺🇸🌵 BNPPO19, Indian Wells – R2 Preview
🇺🇸 (10) Serena Williams vs. 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka

A blockbuster showdown from the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night sees Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka go head-to-head for the first time in 2 years. This will be the first meeting between Williams and Azarenka since both became mothers, a special occasion between two great rivals of the modern era.

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action during the first round at the 2019 BNP Paribas Open WTA Premier Mandatory tennis tournament

Williams has had a typically limited schedule in 2019. The 23-time Grand Slam champion has only played the one tour level event in 2019 where she reached the quarter-finals at the Australian Open. Serena’s Australian Open campaign ended unceremoniously when she squandered a 5-1 lead in the deciding set against Karolina Pliskova, it will be interesting to see what type of level Williams can produce here given she has not played a competitive match for well over a month.

Azarenka has had a much busier schedule than Williams but has generally struggled to find her top level. The recent signs have been better for the two-time former Indian Wells champion, Azarenka arrived in the Californian desert fresh from a quarter-final showing in Acapulco and started her BNP Paribas Open campaign in style. Azarenka breezed through her opening round clash in Indian Wells, a commanding 6-2 6-3 victory over Vera Lapko to set up a showdown with Williams.

Williams holds a 17-4 head-to-head record over Azarenka, however their rivalry has been much, much more competitive than those numbers suggest. Azarenka frequently pushed Williams to her limits but often fell short in 3 sets. 4 of Serena’s last 5 wins over Azarenka required a third set. The most recent match between the pair took place in the 2016 Indian Wells final, Azarenka won that match 6-4 6-4.

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Victoria Azarenka vs. Vera Lapko, Indian Wells R1 Preview

🇺🇸🌵 BNPPO19, Indian Wells – R1 Preview
🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka vs. 🇧🇾 Vera Lapko

An all-Belarussian opening round clash at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells sees 2-time former champion Victoria Azarenka take on Vera Lapko. This will be the first career meeting between the Fed Cup teammates, it is Azarenka who rightfully heads into this match as a strong favourite. The winner of this match will face Serena Williams in the second round, an added incentive here.

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

Azarenka arrives in Indian Wells fresh from a decent showing in Acapulco where she reached the quarter-finals. Azarenka produced a couple of quality performances in Acapulco, including a straight set demolition of the second seeded Danielle Collins in the opening round, but Azarenka’s campaign in Acapulco ended in disappointing fashion as she squandered multiple leads in a 3 set loss to Sofia Kenin.

Vera Lapko arrives in Indian Wells deprived of confidence. Lapko has lost her last 5 matches including a straight set loss at the Indian Wells 125K event last week to Catherine McNally. Lapko ended 2018 in strong form and many would have expected the 20-year-old to have breakout year in 2019, the opposite has been the case thus far.

This is will be first meeting between Azarenka and Lapko but the pair are no strangers to each other. Azarenka and Lapko have practised several times together during Fed Cup ties, no doubt Azarenka would be an idol of Lapko’s so it will be interesting to see how Lapko handles this occasion.

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Victoria Azarenka vs. Laura Siegemund, Australian Open R1 Preview

🇦🇺 Australian Open, R1 Preview
🇩🇪 Laura Siegemund vs. 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka is back competing at Melbourne for the first time in three years. The two-time former champion will begin her 2019 Australian Open campaign against Germany’s Laura Siegemund in what will be the first career meeting between the pair.

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus practices ahead of the 2019 Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament

Laura Siegemund will be looking to complete her first victory at a Grand Slam since the 2016 US Open when she takes to the court against the two-time former champion on Tuesday. Siegemund started her 2019 campaign in Auckland where she was beaten in straight sets by Caroline Wozniacki in the opening round as a lucky-loser. More recently, Siegemund successfully qualified for the main draw in Hobart before being thrashed in the opening round by Dayana Yastremska.

Victoria Azarenka arrives in Melbourne having only played 1 competitive match before the first Grand Slam of the year. Azarenka started her season in Auckland where she was handed a brutal opening round draw against Venus Williams, Azarenka squandered several match-winning positions in that match on route to a tough 3 set loss. Azarenka looked quite shaky at times in her Auckland opener, especially on serve.

Azarenka is one of the big unknowns at this year’s Australian Open, at her best the former champion is still a threat to anyone but she may be understandably rusty to start the event having not played many matches of late.

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Victoria Azarenka vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Montreal R1 Preview

🇨🇦 Rogers Cup, Montreal R1 Preview
🇧🇾 (wc) Victoria Azarenka vs. 🇫🇷 Kristina Mladenovic

Victoria Azarenka begins her Rogers Cup campaign on Tuesday evening in Montreal. The Belarusian will come up against France’s Kristina Mladenovic. There is a bit of uncertainty surrounding Azarenka heading into this event after injury forced her to retire from her quarter-final match in San Jose last week. Can Azarenka rebound in Montreal?

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in action during her second-round match at the 2018 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic WTA Premier tennis tournament

Injury continues to interrupt the progress of Victoria Azarenka. The 2-time former Grand Slam champion has shown glimpses of her best in 2018 but has not been able to consistently compete at a high level. Azarenka started her U.S hard court swing last week in San Jose where she played some good tennis on route to the quarter-finals. Unfortunately the week ended in disappointment as Azarenka was forced to retire injured from a set up against Collins, a sudden back complaint early in the second set cut her week short.

Kristina Mladenovic also started her U.S hard court swing in San Jose last week. Mladenovic’s campaign was over at the first hurdle as she was defeated by Timea Babos 4-6 2-6. Prior to that Mladenovic had a decent grass court season, she is certainly playing better lately than she did during her horror run late last year.

The only previous match between the pair took place at Wimbledon in 2015, Azarenka claimed a 6-4 6-4 victory.

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Victoria Azarenka vs. Kateryna Bondarenko, San Jose R1 Preview

Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, San Jose R1 Preview
🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka vs. 🇺🇦 Kateryna Bondarenko

Viktoria Azarenka will look to continue her dominance of Kateryna Bondarenko when the pair meet at the opening round stage of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose. Azarenka thrashed Bondarenko in straight sets in all of 3 of their previously completed matches, but the pair haven’t met for almost 8 years, will it be more of the same here?

Azarenka has been unable to gain much momentum in 2018. The Belarusian has not won back-to-back matches since Miami and is probably not at the level she thought she would be at by this stage of her return. Azarenka and Bondarenko both had short grass court campaigns. Azarenka was beaten in the second round by Karolina Pliskova whilst Bondarenko was beaten by Lucie Safarova in the opening round. Both will be competing for the first time since early round defeats at Wimbledon.

Azarenka has a 4-0 H2H record over Bondarenko. The most recent match between the pair was way back in 2010, a 6-1 6-1 win for Azarenka at the Rogers Cup.

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Karolina Pliskova vs. Victoria Azarenka, Wimbledon R2 Preview

🇬🇧 Wimbledon, R2 Preview
🇨🇿 (7) Karolina Pliskova vs. 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka

A blockbuster second round clash from Wimbledon on Wednesday sees the 7th seeded Karolina Pliskova take on Victoria Azarenka. This is the pick of the second round matches at SW19, a match-up that sees two former world number 1’s going head-to-head. A real heavyweight battle. This has been a very competitive match-up in recent times, Azarenka holds a slender 3-2 H2H advantage but this will be their first career meeting on grass. Who will prevail?

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic in action during the first round at the 2018 Wimbledon Championships Grand Slam tournament

Karolina Pliskova will be aiming to move past the second round at Wimbledon for the very first time, a bizarre record for a former world number 1. Pliskova made an unconvincing start to her Wimbledon campaign on Monday, the big serving Czech laboured to a 7-6 2-6 6-1 win over local wild card: Harriet Dart. Pliskova looked in trouble as she faced break points in the very first game of the third set but she did raise her intensity and was ultimately too powerful for her inexperienced opponent. In general, Pliskova has not been at her best in the last month, she had disappointing results in Birmingham and Eastbourne before arriving at Wimbledon where she made a poor start.

Victoria Azarenka also survived a big scare in the opening round, a different type of scare. The Belarussian suffered a nasty fall in the first set of her opening round match with Ekaterina Alexandrova but she recovered well enough to claim a 7-6 6-3 victory. Azarenka seems to be in a good place at the moment, her recent results have not been great but one would think that is going to change very soon.

Azarenka holds a 3-2 H2H record over Pliskova. It was Pliskova who the most recent match between the pair, a 6-2 1-6 7-5 victory in Madrid earlier this year. The pair met on one other occasion in 2018, a 7-5 6-3 win to Azarenka in Miami. It will be interesting to see how this match-up unfolds on a grass court for the first time.

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Aleksandra Krunic vs. Victoria Azarenka, Madrid R1 Preview

Mutua Madrid Open R1 Preview
🇷🇸 Aleksandra Krunic vs. 🇧🇾 Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka is back in Madrid! The two-time former finalist will begin her 2018 Mutua Madrid Open campaign with an opening round match against Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic. Azarenka made a successful return to the tour during the Sunshine double where she made an impressive run to the semi-finals in Miami. It will be interesting to see what type of level the Belarussian can bring to the clay courts, her first tournament on clay in almost 2 years.

Viktoria Azarenka of Belarus practices at the 2018 Mutua Madrid Open

Azarenka made it clear that she still has the game to be a serious threat as she reached the semi-finals in Miami in just her second tournament back after almost a year away from the tour. Whilst Azarenka has not played much tennis over the last few years, her results when she has played have still been decent. Given how open the tour is right now there is seemingly potentially for Azarenka to be a threat at the tour’s biggest events.

Aleksandra Krunic arrives in Madrid in decent form. The Serbian is fresh off a semi-final showing in Rabat which will give her confidence heading into this tough opening round match in Madrid. Krunic did however suffer a disappointing loss at the semi-final stage where she was beaten by Ajla Tomljanovic in straight sets.

The only previous match between the pair ended in a 4-6 6-4 6-4 win for Azarenka at the US Open in 2014, the tournament where Krunic made her big breakthrough. .

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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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