Mar 25, 2021

2021 Miami Open WTA Round Two Matches

Women’s round two matches are allegedly all scheduled for tomorrow so I’ll be posting the WTA tonight and the ATP rd 2 tomorrow. Pretty good tennis so far, with some complete implosions, some attempted implosions, and some pretty entertaining night matches.

Barty vs Kucova :

Wowwwwwwwww. Kucova and Baptiste played a marathonnnnnnn. Kucova is having a great week already, and beating Baptiste took hours of extremely tough work. Kucova’s arms looked exhausted by the end of this, and that means Barty will likely have a pretty easy time. A small word about Baptiste. She is going to be great. Her forehand is big, her game is smooth, and while she gets a bit flustered on court at times, she seems like she isn’t overwhelmed by the moment, or terribly over-coached. Bright future. Kucova’s two-handed forehand continues to make me go “wait did she always swing like that?” Anyway, Barty in two.

Ostapenko vs Flipkens :

Nothing like a lucky loser spot that also nets you a bye. Kirsten Flipkens will be happy with 2nd round prize money, but as inconsistent as Jelena “Perturbed Hamster” Ostapenko played in the first round she will have a chance to win. Flipkens plays within herself, and if you haven’t seen her play, most of her strategy on tour is to play a lot of slices and keep the ball out of her opponents strikezone so that she can hang. It’s a bit successful but mostly her days winning on tour are about over. Wang is a better mover, and Ostapenko threw away the tiebreaker and ended up needing a third, but she was able to right the ship. The fast courts suit her, and since Flipkens doesn’t exactly serve aces, Ostapenko should be able to come through here. Ostapenko in 2.

Kerber vs Zarazua :

Angelique Kerber’s bright points make her seem like she’ll get back to winning, but they have been very rare occurences on tour lately. Here is an opponent where my gauge of Kerber says that she should always win. Zarazua is good enough to be on tour but doesn’t have huge weapons. Kerber’s court coverage should negate most of Zarazua’s offense and given how many back and forth service games are in her matches, Kerber’s serve outwide should be the best weapon. The problem is that Kerber has been prone to showing up and just spraying the ball all over the place. High profile ex-champions (Wawrinka/Raonic/Muguruza) are often looking for that previous level of play and lock down and do what’s necessary to win is often not on the table. You’ll never see Wawrinka playing conservative at a 500. You’ll never see Raonic digging out extra balls at a 250. Miami is a big event, so I expect Kerber to show up, but she’s just very unreliable at this point in her career. I’ll still give her a slight nod, but it may take her a while to wake up, and in her last loss she spent the whole match going for winners and throwing her arms up every time her opponent made a good shot. Kerber in 3, but a Querrey level performance could happen here.

Siegemund vs Azarenka :

Good solid win for Siegemund in the first round, dispatching McHale in straight sets. A huge step up in quality comes now, and given Azarenka has just beaten Siegemund in Doha, this might be another straightforward affair. For all you gambooolers, the usual caution needs to exercised when a player who withdrew due to a physical malady appears at a subsequent event, and also players tend to show up in varying degrees of sharpness in first round matches, but Azarenka has the sort of quality defending and counterpunching that make her a much better version of Siegemund. Azarenka in 2.

Bencic vs Diyas :

Who can it beeeeeeee now? Belinda Bennnnnnncic. Who can it be knockin at her door? Go away, she’s not hittin the court no more. Bencic and Keys have a similar game plan, which includes swinging for the fences on every ball and looking extremely puzzled when it doesn’t immediately work. Bencic had suffered a really rough few seasons and seemed almost unwilling to compete, but turned things around with a finals run earlier this season. She managed to run into a red-hot Iga Swiatek whose serving and forehand dominated, but this is a good surface for Bencic, and Diyas doesn’t have the weapons that Swiatek has. Venus Williams acquitted herself well against Diyas, even starting to look sharp late in the second, and although it is still enjoyable to watch her graceful swings, at this point her movement remains too much of a liability for professional tennis.

If Diyas is fortunate, Bencic will have a slow start and get frustrated. Diyas is quick enough and focuses on playing error free, but on these quick courts I suspect Bencic will find it much easier to score points. Bencic in 3.

Wang vs Voundrousova :

Wang overcame qualifier Bolsova in her usual fashion. When she gets her feet planted, her forehand is a bigtime shot and she’s able to really control rallies. Voundrousova was really good in the AO until her injury, and she appeared to recover in her last event before bowing out to Gauff in 3. Where Bolsova is a frustrating test, Voundrousova is THE frustrating test. The rolling lefty forehand is likely to give Wang very few opportunities to get her forehand going, and Voundrousova’s dropshots are a big problem for a player who does her best work standing still. I don’t think this is the easiest match for Voundrousova though. Defending and earning errors is a long-con and Wang is likely to have a lot of opportunities. Early in the tournament fatigue isn’t so likely either so this should be a good match. Voundrousova in 3.

Kudermetova vs Collins :

Collins played very well in round one, and needed to because Mladenovic definitely is inching towards playing sharp on tour again. She just kinda lost the plot when it came time to finish rallies, and double faults crept in just enough that Collins was able to get a lot of looks at slower second serves. Kudermetova has been moving up the rankings pretty consistently, and it almost seems backwards that Collins is playing into her rather than the opposite. Kudermetova has a pretty interesting rally game, with easy power but a focus on moving her opponent. Collins doesn’t really struggle against any of what Kudermetova does though, and I think she will have a small edge in a lot of the rallies. Although Kudermetova has risen up the rankings well, she doesn’t have the caliber of wins that Collins has pretty routinely delivered each season. Should be a close match. Grumpy Collins in 3.

Pironkova Sabalenka :

Marta Kostyuk got tired. Her and Pironkova was a great match, but Pironkova had some excellent tactical changes after the second set loss. She started to keep the ball a bit lower and hang deeper in the court. When Kostyuk forced too much power, she made errors. When Kostyuk played a bit more conservative, Pironkova transitioned quickly up the court and delivered sharp angles with her backhand. It’s the best offensive backhand on tour for my money, and she’ll need to use all her guile against her next opponent. I can hear Sabalenka’s serve from here, and despite lamentable struggles with unforced errors, she has become a fairly consistent match-winner over the last year and a half.

This isn’t one-way traffic for Sabalenka, but if she’s able to isolate Pironkova’s forehand, she’ll be able to win. Pironkova’s serve is always attackable, and while she focuses on landing first serves in (landing a weak first serve often nets more unforced errors than hitting a good second), it is something that Sabalenka will attack. Serena swung for the fences against Pironkova but couldn’t find her timing on the serve, but Sabalenka tends to be a bit quicker moving up the court. It could go three sets, and with Sabalenka playing her first match she could struggle with errors, but I don’t expect an implosion. Sabalenka in 2-3.

Halep vs Garcia :

Simona Halep playing a power hitter is always good tennis to watch. She works harder on her footwork and hitting than most players on tour, but falls into retrieval mode more often than not. Garcia absolutely thumped Buzarnescu, and with the quick court this is her best chance to reverse the trend of Halep winning their last 5 matches. I spoke with Simona earlier today on the phone and she said “i’m tiny and plucky” and I was like dude you sure this is Simona Halep? and she hung up so there you have it. Garcia with a quick start can threaten here, but stylistic matchups are hard to overcome and Halep is one of the best defenders on tour. Halep in 3.

Sevastova vs Gauff :

Yay! Don’t call it a comeback! She’s been here for years! Olga Danilovic played a very in-form Sevastova earlier today, and narrowly lost a tiebreaker. Sevastova was very good on the backhand in the first set, hitting down the line enough that when she started going after the short angle she hits so well it was able to break Danilovic’s footwork and make her open the racquet face time and time again. Despite her usual moping in the second, she hung on to win and her reward is a familiar matchup. Sevastova came relatively out of nowhere (results wise) to give Gauff a tour of the court in the US Open last year that I’m sure Gauff remembers. Fast forward a year and Gauff is playing much better, but still struggling to find the easy offense that she had in her first few tour performances. Devolving into a pusher is something that happens to a lot of junior phenoms, but she’s started to add a lot of safe yet deep offerings that make her a small favorite in this matchup even having lost it previously.

What’s great about the matchup is that both are likely to frustrate the fuzz out of the other, and that tends to result in a more intense competition and more fist-pumping at the box (the real kind, not the “Kevin Anderson” kind). I think Gauff will have the speed around the court that Danilovic sorta lacked, and has a slightly better serve than Sevastova. Gauff in 3.

Keys vs Konjuh :

Konjuh is not exactly back in tour shape, but her and Siniakova played a really high level baseline war in the first round. Konjuh really was able to score off her backhand wing, and hit some timely aces. Since she’s somewhat in a comeback phase, it’s possible that her game could slow down a bit in the second, but this match is more about Keys than anything else. Madison Keys is an enthusiastic Sloane Stephens. It’s unexpected when she loses, but she does it all the time, and the opponent doesn’t matter too much. In similar fashion to Kerber and Wawrinka, Keys has done so much winning that she doesn’t really go to plan B when things go poorly. Konjuh can hang with her power, but it’s a bit foolish for me to try to predict which Madison Keys shows up. Keys in 2.

Krejcikova vs Swiatek :

Krejcikova and Blinkova had a fine squabble in the first round, with a lot of good extended rallies. Krejcikova is good enough in rallies to hang with Swiatek, but Swiatek has been at a level that few can really hang with so far this year. Her serving is likely to give her a big edge, and although she gets a bit impatient at times, the ability to problem-solve and her general percentage on offensive attempts is good enough that it requires a full match of peak tennis to beat her. This is probably one of the tougher 2nd rounds, but Swiatek should be up to it. Swiatek in 2.

Kvitova vs Cornet :

The announcer for Cornet Kuznetsova talked about jetlag until it kicked in. Kuznetsova started off very sharp and although Cornet had some break opportunities she really fell off. Somehow, she turned it around to go up 5-0 in the second, and cruised in the third. The turnaround from St. Petersburg proved too much for Kuznetsova against such a durable opponent. Kvitova also may have some troubles going the distance. She withdrew from Dubai with the second set fairly even, and not much time has passed since then, so there is a question mark regarding her health going into this event. These are professional athletes who care about their condition, but the prize money at these larger tournaments is such that they’ll often play them less than 100%. 2nd round losers here take home 16k. The problem for Cornet is that she has lost all their recent meetings, and in straight sets. Kvitova’s serving and height make Cornet’s loopy defensive returns of little use, and Cornet’s early struggles against Kuznetsova are likely to give Kvitova an easy look at the third round. Barring some hidden injury, Kvitova should win this in 2.

Linette vs Konta :

Magda Linette found her game twice in her first round, overcoming talented junior Robin Montgomery. She’ll have a decent chance against Jo Konta, who has lost 4 out of her last 5 with the only win coming against Bernarda Pera who couldn’t serve the ball into the court at all in that outing. Konta and Linette both are mostly about their serve, so this could be a close one since Linette has been inactive and Konta is struggling with her confidence. I give an edge in the rallies to Konta here, but with her recent record this is a great opportunity for Linette. Linette’s quick starts will give her a good shot at the first set, and from there it’ll be an even prospect. I do expect Konta to get it going at some point though, and on quick courts this could be it. Konta in 3.

Alexandrova vs Podoroska :

This is one that I am surprised at the line for. After making Sherif a close prospect against Podoroska, Podoroska is now only +145 against Alexandrova. Alexandrova is struggling though. She lost to Tauson which is about right. She lost to Gauff which is understandable. She lost to Gasparyan who played great last week. The problem is that while Alexandrova in all these matches is struggling with unforced errors, and Podoroska is a bit of a ball machine. The line isn’t surprising because I don’t expect Podoroska to do well, but because of the large prices that are usually attached to Alexandrova’s name. It almost looks like they expect Alexandrova’s struggles to continue. I am admittedly a huge Podoroska fan. She has a really solid gameplan for most matches, and there isn’t a part of the court she struggles in. I could see this going either way, but I do expect it to get to a third. I’ll side with the shady mooches in Vegas. Podoroska in 3.

Rogers vs Svitolina :

This draw is stacked. Not only are all the best names there, but the lesser known players are playing great. Rogers is starting to become a household name but Svitolina isn’t a great reward for notoriety. Rogers lost their previous meeting, and while she has the power to compete here, her very linear play is something that Svitolina can deal with pretty consistently. Rogers was good in round one but not great. The quick courts may make this quick, and Svitolina is always a flight risk, but she should be able to outlast Rogers here, and the hot weather is never Shelby’s friend. Svitolina in 3.

Andreescu vs Martincova :

Martincova is sharp, and Andreescu is still trying to find her form. She played a marathon against Bouzkova in her last outing, and won a few matches prior. She’s very error-prone at this stage, but her natural talent means she’s an even prospect in this one. Martincova has been smoking people left and right, but they’ve all been matches she’s supposed to win. Besting a bigger name/bigger talent will be a tough ask. Andreescu certainly can struggle at times, but I expect her progress to continue until she’s back to contention. Someone in 3 very entertaining sets.

Anisimova vs Stephens :

You better not win any more matches Sloane Stephens! You better not! Sloane and Dodin played one of the best matches of the day. Oceane crushes the ball on every shot, and Sloane was played into form in this one. Dodin’s struggles are that she isn’t the most durable opponent, and her willingness to go big can often mean that she’s working harder on the average point than her opponent which can lead to drops in her level. I’m not sure what a nice way to say that someone is only good for 2 sets max is, but that’s where she’s at right now. Sloane fought hard and in her characteristic style, she winds up hitting clean winners that aren’t even that far from her opponents. The power is good enough that in a complete slump, she’s still a threat to win every rally.

So the run is over right? Anisimova has taken some time off from tennis to grieve the loss of her father, but prior to that she was winning matches left and right. Since returning she’s had a great performance against Konjuh, and an expected loss against Muguruza who’s just been unreal so far this year. Anisimova’s backhand and serving can often be world-class, but lack of matches and Sloane actually winning a match is significant enough to make me think she has a chance here. I may be getting a bit dizzy with Miami’s awkward scheduling making me scramble, but I’m an overnight Stephens fan. Sloane in 2.

Martic vs Kalinskaya :

Begu’s rants were so good today that Kalinskaya couldn’t help laughing between points. Kalinskaya’s back issues proved to be gone, and the result was that she was again a light-spirited problem for her opponent. Her backhand is applying a great deal of pressure to her opponents, and the mark of a solid run is always consistency, which she has displayed, even in the injury loss to Golubic. Martic has struggled a bit with some mid-tier losses, and this looks like it has the potential for another one. Martic’s movement is the only real hole in her game, and Kalinskaya is likely to test that since she’s been defending very well in the past few weeks. Martic matches tend to go three sets, and I think this one may end quicker. Kalinskaya in 2-3.

Wang vs Muguruza :

Muguruza is on a real serious tear this year. The best thing I’ve noticed that’s new is her patience on every ball. She’s focused, and she’s somehow taking her time even while covering the court well. Composure is so underrated in tennis, and she has a pretty winnable first round match against Xinyu Wang. Muguruza in 2.

Brady vs Sorribes Tormo :

Tormo continues to mirror ARV. Playing deep in the court and challenging her opponents to outwork her, going down breaks and reeling players back in, and just genuinely playing amazing defensive tennis have been the hallmark of her run the past few weeks. At the end of the match against Pera, Tormo was solid, but in the 1st and 2nd set her legs were a bit wobbly. Her serve suffered as a result as she wasn’t getting off the ground much, and some of her slices floated a bit wide. That’s all the lapse that Brady will need, and while she forced a number of errors towards the end of her AO run, a lot of that was adrenaline which may not be at play here. Tormo’s fatigue may cause the end of her run here, but she certainly will make Brady for it. Brady in 2 long sets.

Kanepi vs Rybakina :

Kanepi downed Davis despite a good surge in the second set, and this is a juicy matchup. Rybakina has the game to play with anyone, but it hasn’t really been on display all the time. Unforced errors have her in a Sabalenka-style slump of matches she’s lost that she likely could have won if she played it a bit safer. This is likely to be a similar shootout and although Kanepi is playing great, Rybakina is a big step up from Davis and the 2nd set lapse Kanepi had against Davis won’t go unpunished against Rybakina. It’s hard to go against the sharper player though. Kanepi in 3.

Jabeur vs Badosa :

Teichmann retired in the first set, which makes the lopsided line in her favor even stranger. This brings up an interesting contest with Jabeur, who is the sort of offensive talent that can hit through Badosa. The problem, is that Jabeur can start extremely slow in events, and Badosa actually beat Jabeur on their only previous meeting, when she was still a junior talent. Hopefully the question marks start to subside as the tournament progresses, but a fresh Badosa vs Jabeur is a pretty even contest. Jabeur has won a lot of matches recently, so it’s hard to say Badosa is a clear favorite, but I do expect this to be a close contest. Jabeur in 3.

Petkovic vs Kenin :

Petkovic had a real gift in the first round, as Zhang really could not find the court, but she played well throughout and it’s clear that while she’s not always the most consistent player, she’s a phenomenal athlete. Kenin has had some peculiar losses recently, including a 2-1 L to Gadecki, but her quality is such that Petkovic beating her here would be the best win she’s posted in at least a few seasons. Kenin in 2 or 3 if she starts slowly.

Sanders vs Pegula :

I hate that Sanders isn’t in a different spot in the draw. Despite her backhand going sideways quite often, she really is a top 30 level player already. She’s lefthanded, plays consistent offense, and moves into the backhand and has great depth with it. I expect her to break onto the tour and not be off of it for many years, but Pegula is one of the best players on tour right now so it is a huge ask, especially given how tight Cocciaretto was able to make things when she locked down on defense. Pegula’s serving and offense have really been way better than in previous years, and if she’s able to continue that run, she should be able to edge Sanders here in 2.

Sakkari vs Rus :

Rus! I thought Bouskova had a small edge in that matchup but Aranxta played very solid in a straight sets win. While this next match is a real big ask due to Sakkari’s great defending, Sakkari has been prone to losing range on her forehand and she often drifts behind the baseline when she doesn’t need to which gives her extra time but also lets weaker players gain control of rallies. I think the issue with beating Sakkari is always that if she doesn’t feel pressured to play offense, she digs in on defense when down in the scoreline and can become very hard to outplay. Sakkari in 3.

Samsonova vs Bertens :

Samsonova has the arms I’m tryna get for this summer. Turtle pushups are tough, but I’m inspired. Camila Giorgi didn’t play bad, but Samsonova is in a groove and her power/court coverage is pretty effective right now. Up next is Kiki Bertens, who has been returning from injury for seemingly the last 6 years. I feel bad as she’s one of my favorite players to watch, but she just hasn’t been in form in quite some time. Samsonova is likely to continue her progress here. Samsonova in 2.

Mertens vs Boulter :

Krystina Pliskova hasn’t won a match since Rolan Garros last year, and watching today I can see why. Her backhand returns pretty much clipped the tape every time at the same height. Her forehand down the line found the same issue to be true. She served well late in the match, but Boulter was able to keep the ball in play and pretty much win just by doing that. It’s hard to play offense all the time, and Pliskova’s movement isn’t the best so playing more conservative likely isn’t an option. Still, it looked like she’d really lose to anyone in the draw the way she played today. Boulter is a good prospect, and seems to have a complete game, but she’s now playing an evolved pokemon version of herself. Elise Mertens is my favorite, and besides that qualification, she has one of the most comprehensive baseline games on the tour. Boulter may extend this, as she’s proven she can compete in spurts against the top players, but Mertens should have this. Mertens in 2.

Cirstea Kontaveit :

Cirstea was pretty overwhelming in round one. Scott certainly will be on tour at some point, but it didn’t look like she’d been playing a ton of tennis recently. Ballstriking is a level-indicator though, and Cirstea’s heavy ball earned a lot of errors from Scott. Kontaveit has won all of their previous meetings in straight sets, and despite Cirstea’s good form, that is hard to overlook. Cirstea is still improving, but Kontaveit hits a bigger ball. There are a lot of matchups this round that feature similar games, and this is one of them for me. I do think that although Kontaveit has won some matches this year, she’s been a bit vulnerable. Cirstea may push this one if she gets in a rhythm, as the fast courts make defending difficult. Kontaveit in 3.

Putintseva vs Stojanovic :

Hard to gauge this one but it’s a perfect opportunity for Stojanovic. She’s been on an early round tear recently, and has negated a lot of talented offenses along the way. She never really let Watson get into the match, and although Putintseva is a serious defensive test, she’s likely to have as hard of a time scoring on Stojanovic. Both have won a bunch of matches they were somewhat expected to recently, but Putintseva has the higher caliber results. I think it’ll be a very close match, and it’s hard to say who will win the key points at the end of each one. Putintseva is certainly a more emotionally volatile player, but probably hits a bit heavier than Stojanovic. Someone in 3.

Tomljanovic vs Osaka :

Nice to see Osaka playing at home in Florida, and nice to see Tomljanovic shush me for talking about how she doesn’t win matches anymore. I’m sleepy. Osaka in 2.