The first WTA 1000 tournament since the re-branding of the series has not disappointed. A much stronger field (relative to the men’s side) has provided the WTA Miami Open with competitive tennis, dominant play, and shocking upsets. Maria Sakkari is the surprise semifinalist following her win over Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka. Ash Barty was close to losing her first match, but she battled throughout the tournament and the top seed has found herself in the semifinal. Her opponent Elina Svitolina has put together her best tournament of the year and is a dangerous player looking for her first big title since 2018. Bianca Andreescu may be the story of the week. Tennis fans have seen what she can do, but injuries have held her back from reaching her full potential. This is an excellent semifinal with all four players having a real chance of winning, and as usual, we have our predictions for the two matches below.
WTA Miami Open Semifinal Predictions
Bianca Andreescu vs Maria Sakkari
Head-to-head: First meeting
Bianca Andreescu came into this year with many questions after missing much of 2020 with injury problems that have plagued her young career. She lost in the second round at the Australian Open to the always-dangerous Su-Wei Hsieh, and made the semifinal at the follow-up tournament in Melbourne, though she did not face any top competition throughout the week. Sakkari has played a lot of tennis this year with an 8-5 record entering Miami. She has been inconsistent, scoring five wins over players inside the top-25, while losing twice to players outside the top-50.
Andreescu has finally looked to be finding her elite potential level this week in Miami. She triumphed over Amanda Anisimova in a grueling three set match that lasted almost three hours. The Canadian has played good tennis, but the length of the match in the Miami heat was a good test of her fitness that she strongly passed. She topped Garbine Muguruza who has been one of the top players in the WTA in 2021, showing she is back to her elite level. Sakkari pulled off the upset of the tournament, defeating Naomi Osaka in the quarterfinal in a dominant 6-0 6-4 victory. She has flew through the tournament, losing just one set all week in Miami. Sakkari has been on the verge of becoming a top-10 player for a while, and this week may be the boost that she needs.
When healthy, Andreescu is one of the top five players in the WTA. Sakkari is an excellent player and has proved that this week, but her game is not quite on the level of Andreescu. Andreescu has showed her prowess on hard courts with her titles at the US Open and Indian Wells. Sakkari has yet to make a WTA 1000 final, and her one career title came on clay. Andreescu has a big edge in this match, and though Sakkari has been great this week, it is always a struggle to beat two elite players in a row. Andreescu will handle her nerves and play her game on the way to yet another big final.
Prediction: Andreescu in 2
Ashleigh Barty vs Elina Svitolina
Head-to-head: 5-1 Svitolina
Barty has looked a little vulnerable this week after several impressive tournaments in her return to tennis after over a year off. The world #1 has dropped a set in three of the four matches she has played this week in Miami. Svitolina has fared a bit better, but she has dropped two sets overall in her four matches. On the surface, Svitolina has had a good start to the year, though she has struggled in big matches. Before this week, she had yet to beat a player ranked in the top-25. She entered the week coming off a loss to Svetlana Kuznetsova and a blowout loss to Victoria Azarenka. Barty has only played three tournaments this week, with great results including a title at the Yarra Valley Classic and a quarterfinal appearance at the Australian Open. She did struggle in her most recent match, losing in straight sets to Danielle Collins.
Svitolina has dominated their head-to-head, but Barty won their most recent match at the 2019 WTA Finals. Interestingly, the better-ranked player at the time of the match has won every single one of their meetings, giving Barty and edge in this match. This is also significant because Barty peaked relatively late in her career. Many of their early matchups came when Svitolina was an established top player, while Barty was still battling to reach the top-20. Now Barty is a deserving top ranked player in the world and is one of the dominant forces in women’s tennis. She will be the favorite in the match, making Svitolina’s dominance in their previous matchups less significant.
Though Svitolina did struggle earlier in the year, her performance here in Miami has been impressive. She scored a big win over Petra Kvitova in the round of 16. Kvitova has played great tennis this year, so this win will surely help Svitolina’s confidence. Barty has played back-to-back matches against the two strong Belarusians Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka. Both women have been hard to stop recently so both these wins show the grit Barty plays with that makes her so hard to beat.
This will surely be a close match between two of the best players in the game. Svitolina seems to be finding her groove and her consistent tennis helps her stay competitive and force her opponents to make mistakes. Barty will bring consistency to the table as well, plus a really strong serve that seems to continue improving. Barty’s serve has more power than any shot Svitolina plays, and her elite fitness will help her outlast the Ukrainian on the long points in the Miami heat. Barty will eke out a close match.
Prediction: Barty in 3
Main Photo from Getty.