Seeds hit the court Thursday in the women’s draw at the Miami Masters.
Leading the way are former Grand Slam champions Ash Barty and Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova.
All three will be making their first appearances since Melbourne. In her first match outside of Australia in over a year, Barty opens her title defense against Kristina Kucova. Halep begins against Caroline Garcia while Kvitova collides with Alize Cornet. Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka already advanced to the third round after a walkover from Laura Siegemund.
“The challenge is big,” said the two-time semifinalist Halep about winning Miami. “I always wanted this tournament because it’s a nice tournament, also good conditions all the time. The atmosphere, the weather, it’s nice. So I feel good.
“I had semis. When I won Indian Wells, I had semis after. I think I can play the court very well. Now I’m struggling a little bit with the shoulder. But I’m happy to be here. Of course, I have to dream big. Maybe in one day, I can win this tournament.”
Florida favorite Coco Gauff opens play against former US Open semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova.
Elina Svitolina and Madison Keys are also in action.
Yesterday, the first round wrapped up with former champion Sloane Stephens coming from a set down to defeat Oceane Dodin 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2. Stephens had lost her last five matches coming in. Her last victory came at the French Open.
“It was a great match and she played really well by playing some good matches and some good tennis,” Stephens said to the crowd. “It’s been a rough one for me lately, so I’m really pleased to get through that, fight my way through it and make it happen somehow.
“I’ve been practicing a lot lately, and throughout this past year,” she said. “There have been so many times where I was like, ‘I can’t do this. I want to quit. I want to give up,’ and I think it’s not quite time yet. I think I still have a lot of tennis left in me.
“I’m just happy to battle through and to find my way back to where I want to be.”
Danielle Collins and Jelena Ostapenko were also winners.
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