What’s the prediction on the women’s side at Miami?
At least for you tennis fans.
The pain of no Serena Williams. She gave up the No. 1 ranking last week to Angie Kerber when she pulled out of both Indian Wells and Miami. The pain of Angie Kerber being No. 1. She has won no titles in six events this year. She hasn’t even reached a final.
The pain of no one being even close to challenging Serena. Kerber is No. 13 this year if you tally only 2017 points. Pliskova has won two smaller events this year but hasn’t been able to put herself in position to win the bigger events like the Australian Open and Indian Wells.
No. 4 Dominika Cibulkova nor No. 5 Simona Halep can challenge on a regular basis due to their tool sets or injuries. Lots of injuries. Petra Kvitova is out with a cut hand. Madison Keys is just returning from wrist surgery. Garbine Muguruza and Venus Williams are plagued by injuries and illnesses.
Who will challenge?
Indian Wells last week should have seen some kind of Serena-Kerber-Pliskova showdown. Instead after the injuries and losses you got 30-year-old Russians Svetlana Kuznetsova and Elena Vesnina playing for the title.
Any title is up for grabs this year. Everyone is seemingly injured or can’t step up to the challenge.
On that upbeat note let’s look at the Miami Open draw:
The No. 1 Kerber and No. 7 Kuznetsova are the top seeds in the top quarter. No. 11 Venus Williams and No. 22 Kristina Mladenovic are also thrown in there. Kerber in her current form could get tripped up by No. 31 Daria Kasatkina in the third round. Venus vs. Kuzy in the fourth round to next meet Kerber would be a good barometer to who wants a title. Kuzy could be gassed as she was in the final set of that Indian Wells final.
No. 3 Halep and No. 8 Keys are the top seeds in the second quarter. They should meet in the quarters — except Halep is battling injury and it’s unknown how much tennis Keys’ wrist can take. Of if she’s mentally ready to go deep already into a tournament. It’s likely one or two of the lower seeds in this section could get a quarterfinal look: No. 10 Johanna Konta coming back from injury, No. 14 Sam Stosur, No. 21 Caroline Garcia, No. 24 Timea Babos, No. 28 Irina-Camelia Begu, or No. 32 Ekaterina Makarova.
The No. 4 Cibulkova and No. 6 Muguruza are the top seeds in the third quarter. Muguruza will see a lot of balls coming back in her opener against either Annika Beck or Christina McHale. The Indian Wells winner Vesnina and former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki could throw a couple wrinkles into this quarter. Check back to this quarter in the fourth round when things will start to get interesting. Otherwise nap on it.
The No. 2 Pliskova and No. 5 Aggie Radwanska head the bottom quarter. Radwanska this year reached the Sydney final before losing to Konta, but has reached only one other quarterfinal in six events. This should be Pliskova’s quarter and tournament to take. She starts against the winner of Jelena Ostapenko and a qualifier. Her further road to the quarterfinals will likely include No. 27 Yulia Putintseva, No. 18 CoCo Vandeweghe, then Radwanska or one of the hotter players on tour No. 9 Elina Svitolina.
Pliskova lost a giant opportunity against Kuznetsova in the semifinals at Indian Wells. She is in the first 3-4 months with a new coach. If she can’t step up during the next two weeks in Miami, the rest of year could come down to simply how often Serena is injured to determine the year-end No. 1 ranking.
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