Just eight women remain in contention at the WTA Miami Open and all will surely be desperate to keep their title charge alive in Florida. But who will book their place in Thursday’s semifinals and who will fall to the disappointment of defeat?
WTA Miami Open Quarterfinal Predictions
Ashleigh Barty vs Aryna Sabalenka
Head-to-head: Sabalenka 3-2 Barty
This is certainly a fitting clash to start the quarterfinal round at the WTA Miami Open. Defending champion Ashleigh Barty arrived in Florida having suffered surprising back-to-back defeats, in the Australian Open quarterfinals at the hands of Karolina Muchova and to Danielle Collins at the Adelaide International. But, after overcoming a degree of rustiness in her opener in Miami against Kristina Kucova, Barty has played some fine tennis to beat Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka.
But she will likely need to maintain that level if she is to get the better of Aryna Sabalenka. The Belarusian ended 2020 by winning titles in Linz and Ostrava, before claiming a third crown in as many tournaments at the WTA Abu Dhabi Open in the first week of this season. She lost her way thereafter, losing earlier than she would have liked in Melbourne, Doha and Dubai, but has looked sharp so far in Miami, beating Tsvetana Pironkova, Veronika Kudermetova and Marketa Vondrousova.
She has also won three of her five meetings with Barty, including their most recent match. That said, Sabalenka has struggled to deal with the pressure of the big occasion throughout her career. But she is still young enough to turn that around and this would surely be the perfect opportunity to accomplish. She played well enough against Vondrousova, losing just three games to the Czech, to suggest that she might just be able to hit through Barty and into the semifinals.
Prediction: Sabalenka in 3
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Anastasija Sevastova vs Elina Svitolina
Head-to-head: Svitolina 2-1 Sevastova
There was little to suggest coming into this week that Anastasija Sevastova would find herself in the quarterfinals. The Latvian is not short of pedigree, having reached the US Open semifinals and achieved a career-high ranking of world #11, but she had been a prolonged slump over the last two years. However, she has rediscovered the winning formula so far at the WTA Miami Open, battling past Olga Danilovic, Cori Gauff and Ana Konjuh, with Simona Halep handing her a walkover in the third round.
Elina Svitolina had also been short of wins coming into Miami, with the Ukrainian’s ranking artificially inflated by the changes introduced to the WTA rankings in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. But Svitolina has so far negotiated a difficult draw adroitly. In her opener, she accounted for Shelby Rogers in three sets, before beating Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-6 6-4. Svitolina then rallied from a set down to beat Petra Kvitova 2-6 7-5 7-5 to record only her third win in 12 meetings with the Czech.
This looks to have the makings of a close match with both players likely to have to confront a degree of nerves, despite their considerable experience. But one suspects that Svitolina will have the edge. For all of Sevastova’s achievements, it is the Ukrainian who has the more balanced and powerful game from the baseline. Her ability to take the ball on the rise with her forehand is a particularly useful weapon. The match may well go the distance, but expect Svitolina to be the player to reach the last four in Miami.
Prediction: Svitolina in 3
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