Every week wtatennis.com brings you 10 Things To Know about the week – who is playing, where and much more. This week the Road To Singapore heads to the Miami Open in Miami, Florida…
1) Serena Williams aims for a ninth Miami Open title.
Despite narrowly losing the BNP Paribas Open final to rival Victoria Azarenka, Williams still heads to one of her favorite tournaments as the top seed and in search of a historic ninth victory in Miami. The American will play one of Misaki Doi or Christina McHale in her opening round match, with No.31 seed Daria Gavrilova, No.15 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, No.8 seed Petra Kvitova, and No.3 seed Angieszka Radwanska her projected opponents en route to the final.
2) Victoria Azarenka two weeks away from a rare Sunshine Double.
Former No.1 Victoria Azarenka clinched her return to the Top 10 by beating Williams in straight sets on Sunday and is eligible for the elusive Indian Wells-Miami double for the first time in her career. Her career breakthrough came in Miami back in 2009, when she defeated Williams in the final. All four of her career victories over the 21-time Grand Slam champion have come in finals, and being in the opposite half of the draw, can’t play Williams before that stage.
3) Angelique Kerber on course for a post-Aussie rebound?
Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber is the No.2 seed in Miami despite dropping to No.3 in the WTA rankings following Radwanska’s run to the semifinals in Miami. The German hasn’t won a WTA match since Melbourne, where she defeated both Azarenka and Williams en route to the title. Kerber will pen against either Anna-Lena Friedsam – who reached the final of the inaugrual WTA 125K Series tournament in San Antonio – or Barbora Strycova, who is in the midst of a career-best season, but was forced out of Indian Wells due to an upper respiratory illness.
4) Redemption for Radwanska or Halep?
Agnieszka Radwanska played one of her most competitive matches against Serena Williams in the semifinals of Indian Wells, but still fell in straight sets. The Pole is slated for another semifinal rematch with the American in Miami, but may first have to surpass No.5 seed Simona Halep, who played her best tennis since last summer before she, too, bowed out to the World No.1 in the quarters. Halep has a potential second round against rising Russian Daria Kasatkina, who also reached the quarterfinals in her California desert debut.
5) Full circle for Spain?
Garbiñe Muguruza first captured international attention in Miami, reaching the fourth round as a wildcard back in 2012. Carla Suárez Navarro went even farther in 2015, reaching the final before falling to Williams. As Muguruza’s shown steady improvement, Suárez Navarro had been one of the most consistent forces of the 2016 season, but a right ankle injury took her out of Indian Wells before her opening match. She will open against a qualifier or Indian Wells doubles champion CoCo Vandeweghe, while Muguruza will play either Dominika Cibulkova or Johanna Larsson – with Azarenka, still seeded No.12, looming in the fourth round.
6) Venus Williams and Johanna Konta on-course for a rematch.
Venus Williams’ return to Indian Wells ended earlier than expected with a second round loss to Kurumi Nara, but has the chance to go deeper in Miami; as the No.10 seed, she is set to play the winner of a pair of qualifiers. Seeded in her section is No.24 Johanna Konta, who will become the highest ranked Brit since 1987 (Jo Durie). Her year began with a big win over Venus in Australia, taking her all the way to a maiden Grand Slam semifinal. The elder Williams sister has vastly improved since then with an efficient title run in Taiwan; what can be expected of a potential rematch?
7) More momentum for Karolina Pliskova?
The right-handed half of the Pliskova twins struggled through the Middle East swing, citing a sudden on-set of exhaustion following the Australian Summer. Pliskova returned to her training base in Monaco for a brief rest and looked refreshed en route to the semifinals in Indian Wells, where she narrowly lost to eventual champion Azarenka in three sets. She could face Kerber by the fourth round, but not before a projected third round encounter with No.14 seed and Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships winner Sara Errani.
8) Youth is served.
The WTA’s veterans largely held court in Indian Wells, but might we see a reversal in Miami? No.12 seed Elina Svitolina is projected to face former No.1 Caroline Wozniacki, seeded No.23 and coming off a heartbreaking loss to Zhang Shuai in the Calirfornia desert. No.20 seed Sloane Stephens could play wildcard Heather Watson in the second round, with No.11 seed Lucie Safarova still looking to find her form following multiple bouts with illness and injury. Then there is No.7 seed Belinda Bencic, who admitted to feeling uncomfortable on the Indian Wells courts and might prefer the change of pace offered in Miami – though No.9 seed Roberta Vinci looms in the fourth round.
9) Santina in the Sunshine.
Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza saw their 41-match winning streak end at the Qatar Total Open, and a second early loss at Indian Wells leaves them reeling heading into Miami, which they won last year to capture the Sunshine Double. The Co-No.1s will be top seeds in the doubles draw, but will undoubtedly face a further embolded field, one that has only gotten stronger with the Olympics only a few months away.
10) Find out where you can watch live action this week.