Azarenka-Barty Clash Opens Miami Open Monday Slate


image: Ashleigh Barty Serving

By Daniel Perissé

The Women’s Singles fourth-round clash between World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka opens a full schedule of great tennis matches at the 2021 Miami Open presented by Itaú this Monday, March 29th.

Azarenka and Barty have split two singles meetings in two sets. While the Belarusian won in Tokyo in 2018, the Australian had a victory representing Australia at the Billie Jean King Cup. When asked about the upcoming match, both players have pointed out the respect and friendship between them.

“She has a lot of variety. She has pretty much every single shot there is. She’s, you know, going to be a great match. I don’t know when was the last time we actually played against each other. So it’s going to be a great match. I’m really looking forward to playing against her”, said Azarenka about Barty.

“I know she had an exceptional year last year. She’s a great friend of mine, a brilliant player and someone who I respect and look up to a lot for the way she’s handled herself throughout her career,” affirmed the World No 1.

In the third match on Grandstand, Naomi Osaka squares off with Belgium’s Elise Mertens. While the Japanese player advanced by walkover due to an injury from Serbian qualifier Nina Stojakovic, Mertens needed one hour and 47 minutes to edge past Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 0-6, 6-2, in extremely hot conditions.

Closing the night session on Grandstand, Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza plays  Bianca Andreescu, from Canada.

On Court 1, ninth seed Petra Kvitova takes on fifth seed Elina Svitolina. Although the Czech has a 7-2 head-to-head advantage, it was the Ukrainian who prevailed in the last meeting, in the 2018 WTA Finals.

“We know each other very well, how we are playing and what game we are using. We are not really playing a similar game, so I just will try to play my game. It’s probably the only one chance for me to beat her”, said Kvitova.

In the second match on Court 1, Marketa Vondrousova plays against Aryna Sabalenka. The Czech has a 2-1 head-to-head advantage, but it was the Belarus player who won the last match between them, back in 2018.

Also on Court 1, unseeded Anastasija Sevastova will face wild card Ana Konjuh, former World No. 20. So far in the tournament, the Croatian has already defeated two seeded players (No. 18 Madison Keys and No. 15 Iga Swiatek). Buffalo’s Jessica Pegula squares off with Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo plays the last match on Court 1 against Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.

In the men’s draw, Russian Andrey Rublev plays the second match on Grandstand against Hungary’s Martin Fucsovics, while Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas opens the night session against former World No. 4 Kei Nishikori.

“He’s a player that has played very well in the past, and even now he can raise his level really high. I’ll try and be ready for the battle. It’s important for me to have matches against strong opponents like him. I am very pumped for the match and I’m going to try and put my best performance out there. I’m going to try and take it game by game. It’s important to have a clear picture and follow my tactics”, explained the Greek.

Opening the slate at court Butch Buchholz, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic takes on Italian sensation Lorenzo Musetti, followed by the clash between Canadian Denis Shapovalov, sixth seed, and Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.

Also on court Butch Buchholz, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman meets France’s Adrian Mannarino, while Bradenton’s Sebastian Korda faces Russian Aslan Karatsev and Colombia’s Daniel Elahi Galan plays against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.  On Court 2, Canadian Milos Raonic squares off with France’s Ugo Humbert.

Matches start at 11 a.m. at Hard Rock Stadium, while the night session begins at 7 p.m.