Miami QF: (13) Victoria Azarenka vs (24) Johanna Konta
Victoria Azarenka’s dominance has continued at the Miami Open, the former champion has won 19 of her 20 matches in 2016, claiming titles in Brisbane and in Indian Wells just last week. The Belarussian is starting to look more and more like the player that dominated the tour for large chunks of season 2012 and 2013 and is rapidly rising back up the rankings. Azarenka’s quest for a second Miami Open title will continue on Wednesday when she comes up against Johanna Konta at the quarter-final stage of the premier mandatory level event.
Victoria Azarenka heads into the quarter-final stage of the Miami Open as the favourite to win the title after Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska both suffered shock losses at the fourth round stage on Monday. Azarenka remained strong on a day of upsets, recording a solid 7-6 7-6 victory over Garbine Muguruza in what was arguably the highest quality match of the tournament thus far. There was generally very little to separate the pair throughout the match but Azarenka was clearly braver and more solid in the crucial moments in each tiebreak, particularly in the first set tiebreaker where the Belarussian saved 2 set points. It was clearly Azarenka’s toughest match of the event thus far after she started her week with comfortable straight set wins over Monica Puig and Magda Linette. Azarenka is full of confidence right now and will be extremely tough to stop in Miami.
Johanna Konta has also made a wonderful start to the season and will also enter this quarter-final clash full of confidence. The British number 1 started her Miami Open campaign with a comfortable straight set win over Danka Kovinic before being made to work extremely hard for a 4-6 6-1 7-6 win over Elena Vesnina, a match that Konta probably would have lost in the past. Konta was in trouble late in that match but showed great strength to find a way to reverse the momentum that was clearly against her and ultimately find a way to win. The Brit’s fourth round win was far more straightforward, a commanding 6-2 6-2 win over Monica Niculescu. Konta’s quarter-final clash with Azarenka will no doubt be her biggest test of the tournament thus far.
These two have not played out a completed match which adds a little more intrigue heading into this clash. Azarenka seemingly has a clear edge in this match-up, Konta has a very solid game and good serve but she doesn’t really have the ability to hit Azarenka off the court, whilst Azarenka is far better defensively and has a far greater ability to come forward and finish the point off at the net. Azarenka is on a roll right now and I don’t see her slipping up in this match-up.