After a thrilling Indian Wells, the Miami Open kicks off; Day 1 has an impressive slate of women’s matches, featuring both veterans and young talents. Americans will have plenty to cheer for as 21-year-old Ann Li looks to showcase her skills on the grandstand court. Daria Saville also looks to build off recent momentum to have another good week here in Miami. Veterans Heather Watson and Arantxa Rus will battle it out hoping to secure match wins and climb back up the rankings. It will surely be an exciting day in Florida, with players tested with the heat and humidity that challenges these athletes every year. The second WTA 1000 event will kick off, and every match will be predicted here at Last Word on Tennis. We look at the rest of the day’s matches in two other articles. One features Amanda Anisimova vs Shelby Rogers, the other features Qinwen Zheng vs Magda Linette
WTA Miami Open Day 1 Predictions
Heather Watson vs Arantxa Rus
Head-to-head: First meeting
Neither player has had the best start to the season so far. Watson has an even 7-7 record on the year but most of her wins have been against lesser competition. Rus has a losing record on the season but has been more competitive in losses than Watson. She has pushed both Petra Kvitova and Tamara Zidansek to a close third set. Rus is best on clay but has looked fairly comfortable on hard courts this year. Watson has the surface advantage but Rus seems to be playing a bit better tennis right now. This one will be close but Rus has been more competitive against stronger opponents and will do enough to win the match.
Prediction: Rus in 3
Greet Minnen vs Daria Saville
Head-to-head: 2-0 Saville
Minnen comes in as the higher ranked player but their respective form’s tell a different story. Minnen has mostly played Futures this year and has yet to beat a top-100 player. Saville qualified for Adelaide 2, Guadalajara, and Indian Wells. At Indian Wells she made a surprise run to Round 4, beating Ons Jabeur and Elise Mertens. Saville is in great form and won both previous meetings against Minnen with relative ease. The one concern will be Saville’s retirement from her fourth round match at Indian Wells due to a leg injury. Regardless, Saville looks far better and should be able to win easily without putting too much strain on her body and barring leg issues should win in straights.
Prediction: Saville in 2
Elena-Gabriela Ruse vs Ana Konjuh
Head-to-head: First meeting
Ruse is looking to build on a strong start to her season. The first few months were strong then she made the Round of 16 in Dubai highlighted by a massive win over world #7 Paula Badosa. Konjuh also started fairly strong but has lost her last three and six of her last seven sets. She had to retire from her first round match at Indian Wells due to diziness. While that is unlikely to carry over it possibly was due to the heat in the desert and Miami will present a similar challenge with added humidity. Both players can battle from the baseline, are the same age, and can compete on all surfaces. Ruse is in better form overall and when considering fitness levels, she should have a significant edge to take the match.
Prediction: Ruse in 2
Ann Li vs Mayar Sherif
Head-to-Head: 2-0 Li
This will be a rematch from Melbourne to start the season, win in dominant fashion by Li by dropping just two games. Sherif has had a difficult 2022, with just one win in eight matches, only capturing four total sets in those eight. Li went on to make the semis in Melbourne but her form has slightly fizzled out. The American has still managed to win several matches though not making a deep tournament run. Sherif has not only struggled to win but struggled to be competitive against any level. Li has the game to avoid making too many errors and letting Sherif in the match. She knows how to win and will win comfortably against a player struggling to find form.
Prediction: Li in 2
Main Photo from Getty.