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.
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.