By Justin Ross
No. 8 Agnieszka Radwanska vs. No. 29 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
Poland’s Radwanska holds a 2-1 lead in matches against Croatia’s Lucic-Baroni, but this is a contest with sneaky appeal. Both competitors struggled at Indian Wells, as Radwanska was defeated in the round of 32 and Lucic-Baroni was defeated in the round of 64.
Radwanska won the Miami Open in 2012, but in her first 2016 appearance at the tournament, she struggled in the first set of her matchup with China’s Qiang Wang. Another slow start could derail her chances.
What’s most intriguing: Lucic-Baroni defeated Radwanska at the 2017 Australian Open, so she has the skills and knowledge to do it again.
No. 158 Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. No. 17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Mattek-Sands, U.S., is an underdog against the higher ranked Pavlyuchenkova, Russia, but this is a matchup about momentum. Mattek-Sands is 2-1 against her opponent in career meetings, but the two haven’t squared off since 2013.
What’s most intriguing: At age 25, Pavlyuchenkova has youth on her side, but Mattek-Sands is coming off a huge upset win in straight sets against world No. 10 Elina Svitolina. What’s even sweeter: the win came on the American’s birthday.
At age 32, Mattek-Sands may be older, but a huge win will provide her with the momentum and confidence to take down another top competitor.
No. 33 Shuai Zhang vs. No. 6 Garbine Muguruza
Spain’s Muguruza has the upper hand against China’s Zhang, but it’s hard to believe Muguruza anticipated her first-round marathon with Christina McHale. Muguruza dropped the first set in a shaky start, before she climbed back from the brink of elimination to beat the American.
Not only does a slow start affect the Spaniard’s confidence, but the long match could leave her with less energy for her second-round opponent.
What’s most intriguing: Despite Muguruza’s higher seed, Zhang is 1-0 against her in career matchups. Their lone contest came in February, and Zhang secured a 7-6(3), 3-6, 7-5 win. She also has nearly 100 more career wins than Muguruza, so experience is on her side. This one could turn into a real toss-up.
About the Miami Open presented by Itaú
The 2017 Miami Open will be played March 20-April 2 at the Crandon Tennis Center in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Miami Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men's and women's tennis players in the world. The tournament is widely regarded as the most glamorous on the ATP and WTA calendars because of its exotic Miami location, thriving nightlife, five-star hotels and restaurants, beautiful weather and beaches, and its celebrity appeal. For ticket information, call +1.305.442.3367 or visit www.miamiopen.com.
Itau is the largest Latin America privately owned bank, with approximately 95,000 employees and operations in 20 countries throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Itaú’s relationship with sport goes back to the 1970s, when Itaú first sponsored the Itaú Tennis Cup in Brazil in 1970. Itaú has been a sponsor of the Miami Open for the last six years, and also sponsors the Rio Open, the only combined ATP/WTA event in South America. Itaú also supports the Brazilian Women’s Tennis Circuit, only female professional tournament in South America, certified by the Brazilian Tennis Confederation (CBT) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), as well as the Tennis Institute Training Center, responsible for the development of young, new talent.
IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion and media operating in more than 25 countries around the world. IMG’s businesses include Events & Media, College, Golf, Tennis, Performance and IMG Academy, Fashion, Models, Clients, Licensing, Joint Ventures, and creative management agency Art + Commerce. In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, the world’s leading entertainment and media agency. Together, the companies offer an unparalleled client roster; strategic partnerships with sponsors and brands; and marquee assets across sports, entertainment, events, music and fashion.