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Miami Open Women’s Draw: Swiatek looks to hold off challengers in bid for Sunshine Double

Coming in with a 11-match winning streak. the new world No 2 Iga Swiatek is the favourite in the women’s Miami Open but the draw is packed with eight top 10 players and plenty of dangerous contenders

Iga Swiatek of Poland during the champions trophy shoot after winning the final of the 2022 BNP Paribas Open WTA 1000 tennis tournament Iga Swiatek_Indian Wells_2022

With defending champion Ash Barty deciding to skip the Miami Open, Poland’s Iga Swiatek is the top favourite to win the second leg of the ‘Sunshine Double’ (Indian Wells + Miami in the same year). The new world No 2 won the Indian Wells title on Sunday and has more match wins (20) than any other player on the tour. But with eight of the top 10 women (French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova is the only other top 10 player missing due to injury) and several other marquee names in the draw, it’s going to be a difficult ask for the 20-year-old to become the first player to achieve the feat since Victoria Azarenka in 2016,.

First Quarter: Top seed Sabalenka hopes to rediscover her winning touch

Aryna Sabalenka plays against Jasmine Paolini at the BNP Paribas open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Aryna Sabalenka plays against Jasmine Paolini at the BNP Paribas open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Image Credit: AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Tennis fortunes swing fast. At the beginning of the year, Aryna Sabalenka was the closest challenger for Barty’s top ranking. But the Belarusian has posted a meagre 6-6 record in 2022, plagued by a confidence crisis in her serve.

If she is to start reviving her fortunes at the Miami Open, Sabalenka will have her task cut out, possibly going up against the in-form Daria Kasatkina in the third round, and either 15th seed Elina Svitolina or 22nd seed Belinda Bencic in the last 16.

Former world No 1 Karolina Pliskova is Sabalenka’s projected quarter-final opponent. The Czech returned from injury to play her first event of 2022 at Indian Wells but lost her opening match in the desert. She could face the big-hitting 27th seed Camila Giorgi in the third round and either US Open champion Emma Raducanu (seed No. 11) or the resurging Simona Halep (seeded 23rd) in the last 16. Watch out for Aussie wild card Daria Saville, who qualified and reached the fourth round at Indian Wells, and could meet Halep in the second round.

Second Quarter: The Kontaveit-Jabeur friendship and rivalry continues at the Miami Open

Anett Kontaveit
Anett Kontaveit in Doha (Panoramic)

The chase for the final berth at last year’s season-ending WTA Finals sparked a genuine friendship between Anett Kontaveit and Ons Jabeur. The two could meet for the third time this season if they live up to their seedings in Miami.

After an early exit at Indian Wells, Kontaveit will be hoping to steer her season back on track at the Miami Open. She has the seasoned French veteran Alize Cornet, seeded 31st, in her third-round section, and former world No 1 Angelique Kerber (No. 13 seed) or US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez No. 18 seed) in round four. Naomi Osaka will be hoping to put her tearful Indian Wells exit behind her and could be a dangerous opponent for Kerber in round two, if she can get past Astra Sharma in the first round.

Jabeur is projected to meet Australian Open finalist and ninth seed Danielle Collins in the fourth round but 19th seed Tamara Zidansek, 32nd seed Sara Sorribes Tormo and Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi hoping to play spoilsport.

Third Quarter: Sakkari and Badosa favourites in this section

Maria Sakkari St Petersburg 2022
AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Paula Badosa’s Indian Wells defence came to an end in the semi-finals this year at the hands of Greece’s Maria Sakkari. The new world No 3 is seeded fourth at the Miami Open and could meet 26th seed Madison Keys or Sofia Kenin in the third round. She also has 16th seed Jessica Pegula or 17th seed Elena Rybakina as potential fourth round opponents.

Seeded fifth, Badosa has 30th seed Marketa Vondrousova and three-time champion Victoria Azarenka, seeded No 12, in her part of the draw.

If Badosa and Sakkari reach the last eight, it will be a repeat of their Indian Wells semi-final which the Greek won in three sets to level their head-to-head at 1-1.

Watch out for the 16-year-old wild card Linda Fruhvirotva in this quarter. The Czech prodigy meets Danka Kovinic in the first round and could meet 20th seed Elise Mertens in the second round.

Fourth Quarter: Swiatek aims for another big title

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek (Panoramic)

Over the first few months of the 2022 season, Iga Swiatek has established herself as the most serious challenger to Ash Barty’s No. 1 ranking. Swiatek has won her last 11 matches in a row and will aim to win her third consecutive WTA 1000 series event this fortnight.

The Pole is projected to meet 29th seed Liudmila Samsonova in the third round, and could get either the just-turned 18-year-old Coco Gauff, seeded 14th, or Romanian veteran Sorana Cirstea, seeded 24th, in the fourth round.

WTA Finals champion Garbine Muguruza is Swiatek’s projected quarter-final opponent. The Spaniard has also had a poor start to the 2022 season, posting a 5-5 record for the season.

Muguruza, the no 7 seed, could face two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, seeded 28th, in what could be an entertaining third-round duel. Also, in Mugruza’s path to live up to her seeding is the big-hitting Latvian Jelena Ostapenko, whose consistency is beginning to catch up with the velocity of her big groundstrokes.

Seeded10th, Ostapenko could meet the young American Amanda Anisimova in the second round and 21st seed Veronika Kudermetova in the third round.

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