The three Top 10 seeds in action survived while an astounding 25% of the total seeds exited on Thursday at the Miami Open.
World No. 1 Simona Halep continued with shaky play but successfully struggled past France’s Oceane Dodin 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 in her opener. The Romanian was fed a bagel set in her loss at Indian Wells to unseeded Naomi Osaka last week.
“I cannot tell you much about this match, because I don’t really know how it is,” said Halep, who trailed by a set and 2-4 down. “I felt just that I played bad, but it’s a good day at the office and I’ll take it. You have these days, and when you don’t give up, it’s the most important thing.”
Halep will next face No. 30 seed Agnieszka Radwanska who beat Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3, 7-6(4).
Other Top 10 winners were No. 5 Karolina Pliskova edging Russian Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 7-5, and No. 10 Angelique Kerber strumming Swede Johanna Larsson 6-2, 6-2. No. 3 Garbine Muguruza received a walkover against American wildcard Amanda Anisimova who cited a right foot injury.
Lower seeds advancing were No. 13 Sloane Stephens, No. 20 Anastasija Sevastova and No. 23 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
“Missing here last year, I really just wanted to get back on these courts,” said an apparently-mentally-revitalized Stephens after defeating Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1, 6-3. “I grew up in South Florida, so this is one of my favorite tournaments of the year. I get to see all my friends, all my family. Playing here is incredible.”
The parade of upset-makers in Miami Thursday were American Alison Riske ousting No. 7 Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-1, German Carina Witthoeft outlasting No. 12 Julia Goerges 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-4, former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka advancing when No. 14 Madison Keys retired trailing 7-6(5), Romanian Monica Niculescu slicing past No. 17 Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 6-3, Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas routing No. 18 Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-3, American Christina McHale defeating No. 25 Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-4, China’s unheralded Yafan Wang shocking No. 27 Carla Suarez Navarro 7-5, 6-3, and Taipei’s Su-Wei Hsieh beating No. 32 Sorana Cirstea 7-5, 6-2.
“It’s the worst way to win a match, honestly,” Azarenka said after Keys retired with a leg injury. “You don’t wish injury to anybody…I still have that fire to play. I feel like in Indian Wells it was missing a little bit, and here in Miami, with all the heat and all the excitement, I get it back with every match. And I hope to continue on this path and continue to improve.”
Matches to look for on Friday in Miami are No. 4 Elina Svitolina vs. Naomi Osaka, No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki vs. Moanica Puig, and the all-American No. 16 CoCo Vandeweghe vs. (Q) Danielle Collins.
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