Miami Open Offers Both Opportunity, Challenges

Miami Open, Hard Rock Stadium (photo: @MiamiOpen/Twitter)

MIAMI/WASHINGTON, March 23, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

While the Miami Open presented by Itaú women’s draw is chock full of marquee names – 27 of the current Top 30 are entered – the men’s draw has a little less star power with the absence of the Big Three – Roger Federer (2019 Miami Open champion), Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Regardless, the first combined ATP/WTA 1000 of the season has arrived, after a year’s absence because of the global pandemic, offering lots of opportunity for the men and plenty of challenges for the women. Regardless, expect to see many great match-ups for those players who have come to play at Hard Rock Stadium during the south Florida fortnight.

When the Miami Open was last held in 2019, it was Australia’s Ashleigh Barty who won the first of her four 2019 titles en route to becoming World No. 1. She’s back to defend against a world-class field that includes World No. 2 and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka, former World No. 1 Simona Halep, 2019 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin as well as other Top 10 stars Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova (who lost to Barty in the 2019 Miami Open title match), Aryna Sabalenka, Bianca Andreescu and Petra Kvitova. Only Serena Williams among the current Top 10 is missing due to recovering from recent oral surgery.

Meanwhile, on the men’s side, it will be World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who earlier this month supplanted Nadal in the rankings, as the top seed. He’s joined by World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 7 Alexander Zverev, who is fresh off his title win over the weekend in Acapulco; and No. 8 Andrey Rublev. A total of 13 of the Top 20 are entered. One of those missing is Federer, who beat John Isner for the 2019 title, which was his fourth Miami crown and 28th Masters 1000 title.

Both the men’s and women’s singles feature a 96-player draw. The women’s first round begins Tuesday and features No. 79 Venus Williams of the United States facing No. 89 Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan. Also in action, Dubai finalist Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, ranked 39th, will play No. 73 Anna Blinkova of Russia. The men’s first round starts on Wednesday.

Leylah Fernandez: An epilogue to Monterrey

Leylah Fernandez, the 18-year-old Canadian teenager, can be forgiven. About 25 hours after winning her first WTA title at the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico, Fernandez found herself trying to qualify for the WTA 1000 series Miami Open presented by Itaú on Court 4 on the grounds of the Hard Rock Stadium complex in Miami Gardens, Fla.

Soon, after completing her virtual press conference following her title victory in Monterrey, Fernandez and her coach, Romain Derrider, were airborne headed for Miami. Fortunately, she was given the last match of the day on Monday’s order of play. Unfortunately for the newly-72nd-ranked Fernandez, who was seeded second in the women’s qualifying draw, she fell to No. 137 Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania, 6-4, 6-2, in just an hour and 24 minutes.

Fernandez (8-5 in 2021) was broken twice in the opening set, in the fifth and seventh games. Then, she was broken in each of her first three service games of the second set, trailing by a double break before rallying briefly. She converted just two of six break-point opportunities in the battle of left-handed hitters. Fernandez was outpointed 59-53.

There will be better days for Fernandez, but she’ll always have Sunday’s memory of kissing her first WTA champion’s trophy in Monterrey to remember.

Miami Open qualifying: Familiar names, some upsets

The first day of qualifying for the Miami Open presented by Itaú, a combined ATP/WTA 1000 event began Monday. On the men’s side No. 1 seed Mackenzie McDonald of the United States, ranked 119th, defeated Roberto Cid Subervi of the Dominican Republic, ranked 236th, 6-1, 6-1, to advance against No. 156 Ivo Karlovic. The 42-year-old Croatian, who now lives in the Miami area, defeated Tatsuma Ito of Japan, ranked No. 195, 6-3, 7-6 (3), on the strength of 14 service aces.

Also, No. 2 seed Thiago Seyboth Wild of Brazil, ranked 124th, was a 6-3, 6-3 winner over American wild card Toby Alex Kodat, ranked No. 757. In Tuesday’s second round, Wild will face another U.S. player, No. 204 Mitchell Krueger, who beat No. 163 Lorenzo Giustino of Italy, 6-4, 6-3.

Women’s No. 1 seed Misaki Doi of Japan, ranked 76th, was upset by 236th-ranked American Hailey Baptiste, 1-6, 6-0, 7-6 (5). In one of the more intriguing qualifying matches, former doubles World No. 1 Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the United States, ranked 292nd in singles, outlasted No. 111 Sara Errani of Italy, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, in two hours and 34 minutes.

A total of 12 men’s and 12 women’s spots in the singles main draws are up for grabs on Tuesday in the final round of qualifying.

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Viktorija Golubic: A love of Harry Potter Books

Swiss No. 3 Viktorija Golubic is a big fan of Harry Potter. She’s read all seven of J.K. Rowling’s books that chronicle the young British wizard and his friends multiple times. After uncovering this delightful nugget of knowledge from Golubic’s WTA website bio, Tennis TourTalk couldn’t wait to ask what Harry Potter means to the 28-year-old Swiss native, who was a young child growing up in Zürich when the series was launched back in 1997.

After Golubic’s semifinal victory against Ann Li Saturday at the Abierto GNP Seguros in Monterrey, Mexico, as her post-match virtual interview was winding down, we asked her about Harry Potter. She broke out in a big smile and giggled.

“Well, you know, I’ve had the books since I was a child,” she explained. “I started reading them once the second one (Chamber of Secrets) was out. I was always waiting for the new one, so I basically grew up reading them. This is kind of what I remember from my childhood. It’s a story you just don’t want to finish it, right? After some years have passed by, you want to read it, again, or connect to it in some way. I found actually this last week a shop in Lyon after the tournament – a Harry Potter shop – and I was amazed.” Does she have a favorite among the seven Harry Potter books? “My favorite one is number six (Half-Blood Prince).”

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Elina Svitolina / Monday mood


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