MIAMI, March 26, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
On a day filled with both sunshine and rain at the Miami Open presented by Itaú, Ashleigh Barty stuck to her game plan of playing consistent, no nonsense tennis and it produced a positive result. Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova snuck in a brief nap during an early-afternoon rain delay and came back on the Hard Rock Stadium court feeling reinvigorated. However, Bianca Andreescu’s highly-anticipated chase toward winning the Sunshine Double ended when she pulled the plug on her match against No. 21 seed Anett Kontaveit after just nine games due to an apparent right shoulder issue. These were just some of the early storylines that developed during Monday’s fourth round, in which all 16 remaining competitors in the women’s singles draw were in action.
Barty, the No. 12 seed from Australia, advanced to her first WTA Premier Mandatory quarterfinal with a come-from-behind 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 7 Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. She improved to 4-0 against Bertens, which includes the Aussie’s handling of Bertens at this year’s Sydney semifinals. Barty won 72 percent of her first-serve points, saved four of seven break points and broke the Dutchwoman five times – including three times in the final set – over the course of the one hour and 53 minute match on Butch Buccholz Court.
Meanwhile, No. 3 seed Kvitova returned from an almost-two hour rain delay to finish off No. 19 seed Caroline Garcia of France, 6-3, 6-3, to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014. The rain delay lasted longer than the World No. 2 Kvitova’s one hour and 24 minute match that started the day session inside Hard Rock Stadium. The Czech was dominant against Garcia, facing just one break point, and it was her fourth win against the Frenchwoman in seven career head-to-head matches. Next, Kvitova will face Barty on the Stadium court Tuesday night.
Delayed victory for @Petra_Kvitova!
— WTA (@WTA) 25. März 2019
On Court 1, Andreescu’s remarkable 10-match winning streak came to an end after she was forced to retire from her match, trailing 2-0 in the second set after losing the first set 6-1. The 18-year-old Canadian sensation, who last week won the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, made it clear after 56 minutes that she couldn’t continue. After her third-round win against No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber early Sunday morning, she began to feel tightness in her right shoulder.
“I tried to get as much treatment as I can,” Andreescu said during her post-match press conference. “I thought it would be okay, but obviously it just got worse as the match progressed.
“I have played so many matches. I guess this is just a way of my body telling me that it’s had enough. The physios and the doctor said that it’s nothing too serious, but the pain is there, and I couldn’t continue today.”
During Andreescu’s winning streak, she put together five wins over Top 20 opponents – including two against the former No. 1 Kerber. While it may be disappointing that she wasn’t able to finish her run in Miami, Andreescu can look forward to some time off to rest her ailing shoulder and reflect upon her accomplishments. Among them, she lifted her ranking from No. 60 during Indian Wells to No. 24 at the start of the Miami Open.
“I really can’t complain with what I have achieved,” Andreescu said. “It’s been an incredible run, a Cinderella story, like a lot of you guys said. It’s a dream come true.”
— WTA (@WTA) 26. März 2019
Around the women’s draw
• No. 2 seed Simona Halep of Romania garnered her fourth consecutive victory over Venus Williams, a three-time Miami Open champion, 6-3, 6-3. It earned the former World No. 1 a fourth Miami quarterfinal in five years, and it also marked her 270th consecutive week inside the WTA Top 10.
“I’m happy to do these big things and the work I’ve done has paid off,” Halep said during an on-court interview after her win over the 43rd-ranked Williams on the Stadium court. “I’m happy to be in this position and I’m really enjoying playing tennis.”
— WTA (@WTA) 26. März 2019
Next, Halep will oppose No. 18 seed Wang Qiang, who beat No. 50 Wang Yafan, 7-5, 6-4, in a battle of Chinese compatriots on Court 1 Monday night.
• After her upset of World No. 1 Naomi Osaka in the third round on Saturday, Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei beat No. 13 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, 6-3, 6-7 (0), 6-2, to reach her first quarterfinal of a Premier Mandatory event.
Over four previous meetings, Hsieh had won just one set against Wozniacki. However, like she has done so many times before, Hsieh’s deceptively entertaining use of touch and her ability to win points from every corner of the Grandstand court overcame Wozniacki time and again Monday night. Many times, she hit pin-point winners from defensive postures. Hsieh broke Wozniacki’s serve six times during the two hour and 13 minute match and outpointed her 98-83.
Hsieh will be back on the Stadium court for the first time since beating Osaka when she faces No. 21 Anett Kontaveit on Tuesday afternoon.
• No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic overcame 48 unforced errors by hitting 43 winners, including seven service aces, in her 2-6, 6-3, 7-5 victory over No. 44 Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan to advance to the Miami Open quarterfinals for the third straight year and fourth time in five years.
“Of course I’m doing some mistakes, I think I can do some good shots also. So, I think it’s a little bit mix of both,” the World No. 7 Pliskova said during her post-match press conference. “Playing sometimes good, maybe sometimes too many mistakes in a row, but I think it’s always important to find a way, somehow, how to win. Last two, three weeks I’m still not playing perfect, but I’m fighting and getting the victories, which is important.”
Pliskova’s quarterfinal opponent will be her compatriot Marketa Vondrousova, 19, who ended the run of Tatjana Maria with a 6-4, 6-3 win. The 31-year-old German was broken five times by Vondrousova, who has reached back-to-back quarterfinals at Indian Wells and Miami, and also has won 12 of her last 14 matches.
“I played with (Vondrousova) in Fed Cup, we never played each other in a tournament,” Pliskova said. “I think she’s playing amazing right now.”
Born in Germany, home in Florida
When No. 62 Tatjana Maria beat defending champion Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-2 in their third-round encounter in Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday night, it was the 31-year-old Maria’s third win against a Top 10 player in her career. Not many thought the native of Bad Saulgau would be the last remaining German in the women’s draw. However, following Saturday’s twin losses by No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber and No. 15 seed Julia Goerges, the spotlight has shifted to Maria. She didn’t disappoint against Stephens, and it advanced her to the fourth round against No. 59 Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.
“I could not be happier right now,” Maria said on-court after her win against No. 4 seed Stephens. “I think I played at home, because I live here. It was helping me a lot. My family, everybody’s here, my friends and I think it helps.”
Maria, her husband and coach Charles, and five-year-old daughter Charlotte now call Palm Beach, Florida, their home. So, playing in Miami Gardens at Hard Rock Stadium, about an hour’s drive from Palm Beach, felt very much at home to her.
“My game is pretty special, so I knew that tonight I had a chance. I played two times against Sloane, so I knew what to expect,” she said.
Stephens praised Maria in her post-match comments with the media, saying “She’s a great player, she plays with a lot of variations and she’s a tricky opponent. She just played the better match today.”
A year ago in Cincinnati, it was Stephens who won by identical scores to Sunday’s result. As Maria told WTATennis.com, “I think from every match you learn something. For sure, it was helping me that I played her already twice.
“I was happy today that I could really find my game and that I was not too passive and I could change the rhythm. It was working out well.”
By the numbers
When Daria Kasatkina lost to Venus Williams 6-3, 6-1 on Sunday, it dropped her 2019 win-loss record to a dismal 2-7, which includes five consecutive straight-set defeats. What has happened to Kasatkina, who is now ranked No. 22 after finishing 2018 at No. 10? She told WTATennis.com, “I have no goals anymore because I missed up with all of the high expectations I had in my head.” After winning Charleston last year, she’s not entered at next week’s WTA Volvo Car Open.
Next stop: Rome
New York Times tennis correspondent Ben Rothenberg confirmed Monday morning via Twitter that former No. 1 Serena Williams, who withdrew from the Miami Open on Saturday citing a left knee injury, would resurface on the WTA Tour in Rome. He tweeted: “Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou says her next tournament will be Rome, in May.”
Earlier this month, Williams, 37, retired from her second-round match against Garbiñe Muguruza at Indian Wells with a viral illness. Then, she pulled out of Miami after a day after winning her only match. Since losing the U.S. Open final last September to Naomi Osaka, Williams has played just nine tour-level matches (6-3 win-loss record) – all this year – and reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open before losing to Karolina Pliskova. She also played in the Hopman Cup exhibition in Perth in January.
Monday’s singles results
No. 27 Hsieh Su-Wei d. No. 13 Caroline Wozniacki, 6-3, 6-7 (0), 6-2
No. 21 Anett Kontaveit d. Bianca Andreescu, 6-1, 2-0 (retired).
No. 3 Petra Kvitova d. No. 19 Caroline Garcia, 6-3, 6-3
No. 12 Ashleigh Barty d. No. 7 Kiki Bertens 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
No. 18 Wang Qiang d. Wang Yafan, 7-5, 6-4
No. 2 Simona Halep d. Venus Williams, 6-3, 6-3
No. 5 Karolina Pliskova d. Yulia Putintseva, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5
Marketa Vondrousova d. Tatjana Maria, 6-4, 6-3
Tuesday’s order of play
No. 27 Hsieh Su-Wei vs. No. 21 Anett Kontaveit, NB 2 p.m. (Stadium)
No. 3 Petra Kvitova vs. No. 12 Ashleigh Barty, NB 7:30 p.m. (Stadium)