WTA Miami Open Day 3 Predictions – Including Naomi Osaka vs Yanina Wickmayer

Ons Jabeur

As the new-look Miami Open heads into it’s third day, the top seeds are preparing to join the action with the order of play featuring some of the biggest names in the sport. That includes world #1 Naomi Osaka, 23-time Major champion Serena Williams and defending champion Sloane Stephens. But will they all advance through to the third round safely or will they fall victim to upsets?

Naomi Osaka vs Yanina Wickmayer (first on Stadium Court)

World #1 Naomi Osaka made a fast start to the season, winning her second straight Major title at the Australian Open. But her recent results have been disappointing by her high standards, with a second-round loss in Dubai followed by a 3-6 1-6 defeat in the last 16 in Indian Wells, where she was defending champion. And against Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer, who will be match tough after coming through the qualifying, she may need to rediscover her form quickly to avoid another early exit.

Fortunately for the Japanese, she does have tremendous power to rely on. Though her forehand is her best shot, she can also hurt her opponents with her two-hander whilst her serve is an increasingly potent weapon. Wickmayer cannot match that power, but the former US Open semifinalist does have accurate groundstrokes and covers the court well. However, after numerous struggles with injury and illness over the past years, she is no longer the force she once was. As a result, expect Osaka to prove too strong in the pair’s first meeting.

Osaka in two.
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Serena Williams vs Rebecca Peterson (third on Stadium Court)

Serena Williams has had a frustrating start to the year. She first lost to Karolina Pliskova from a commanding position in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, before being forced to retire in the third round in the Californian desert with illness. But she has won the title in Miami eight times and will certainly consider herself the favourite against Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson, in what will be the first meeting between the pair. But Peterson did impress in besting Laura Siegemund of Germany 6-1 5-7 7-5 in the first round.

That said, facing the power of Williams is another challenge entirely. The American remains one of the most effective servers in the women’s game and also possesses punishing groundstrokes, that have enabled her to hit through almost every opponent she has ever faced. Peterson, a good mover, will hope that her heavy topspin forehand finds plenty of purchase on the gritty Miami courts. But it is hard to see her withstanding the sort of offensive barrage that the 10th seeded Williams can produce.

Williams in two.
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Venus Williams vs Carla Suarez Navarro (second on Grandstand)

Venus Williams, unseeded, put together a memorable, battling run in Indian Wells, before coming up just short in the quarterfinals at the hands of Angelique Kerber. She had to fight hard again in the Miami Open first round, overcoming a slow start to beat Dalila Jakupovic of Slovakia 7-5 6-3. That win earned her a second-round clash with 24th seed Carla Suarez Navarro who, like all the seeded players in the Sunshine State, enjoyed a bye in the first round.

It will be the tenth meeting between the pair and encouragingly for Williams, she has won six of the previous nine, including the last four. However, Suarez Navarro did win their only previous clash in Miami, albeit at the old Crandon Park grounds. Nonetheless, her chances in this match cannot be discounted, with her accurate groundstrokes and excellent court coverage ensuring she is never an easy opponent. She will certainly not be one that Williams, who looked rather weary in the first round, will relish facing.

Suarez Navarro in three.
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Sloane Stephens vs Ons Jabeur (fourth on Grandstand)

Stephens has not yet found her best form this season. But she will surely be hoping that she can affect a turnaround at the Miami Open, where she is defending champion. However, she may need to be at her best against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who convincingly won in their only previous meeting, which came in the second round in Moscow last season. Jabeur also played some fine tennis to rally past Kristyna Pliskova in the first round, 2-6 6-3 6-4.

But Stephens’ counter-punching baseline style has typically been rewarded on the sort of slow, gritty hard courts to be found at the Miami Open. Her excellent fitness has also allowed her to grind down a number of opponents throughout her career, which may give her confidence against Jabeur, who is not known for her staying power. But, when Jabeur is hitting the ball cleanly, she can present a real challenge for anyone. Nonetheless, Stephens is unquestionably the better player and her greater quality should ultimately prove decisive.

Stephens in three.

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