Last year at this time, we were stationed in the pause between what turned out to be Victoria Azarenka's "Sunshine Double" combination of back-to-back titles in Indian Wells and Miami, as the former #1 surged back into the Top 10 while riding her best stretch of tennis in three seasons.
Since then, of course, Azarenka has become a mother and is already working toward getting back on the court. Whether it be in Paris, on the grass, or North American hard courts, we should be seeing Vika again in the not too distant future (yay!). With her Indian Wells title points falling off the computer she fell from #17 to #48 on Monday, and will fall outside the Top 300 in two weeks when she loses her Miami cache.
Here she is this week...
- Believe it or not, 2012 winner Aga Radwanska is the only Miami women's singles champion who hasn't also won a slam title. This tournament was first held in 1985. That's 31 of 32 champions.
- Additionally, only three of the thirty-two women's singles champions have never been ranked #1 on the WTA computer: Gabriela Sabatini (1989), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2006) and Radwanska (2012). Kuznetsova and Radwanska have been ranked #2, and Sabatini was as high as #3.
- More: Of the sixty-four Miami singles finalists, all but five have also played in a slam singles final: Judith Weisner (1990), Kimiko Date (1995), Chanda Rubin (1996), Anna Kournikova (1998) and Carla Suarez-Navarro (2015). So, only one player matching such a description has advanced so far in the past eighteen editions of what is now called the Miami Open.
- Martina Hingis has won the Miami doubles title in two of the last three years, with two different partners. She's in the draw this year with a third partner, Chan Yung-Jan, and the duo is coming off having won their first title as a pair last week in Indian Wells.
- There was at least one Russian in the Miami women's doubles final every year from 2009-15. A week after two Russians faced off in the Indian Wells final, it should be noted that there has been just one Hordette singles champ (Kuznetsova '06) in Miami, an occurrence that came about due to another all-Hordette championship match. The other eight Russian singles finalists in Miami have gone 0-8 (including an 0-5 record from Maria Sharapova).
One of those finalists was Anna Kournikova, the first of the Russians to reach the Miami final. In 1998, she lost in three sets to a 17-year old Venus Williams (winning just her second career title) nineteen years ago this month. Just 16 years old herself at the time, Kournikova's Miami run turned out to be the first (and biggest) of her four career tour-level singles finals (she also reached the Wimbledon semis in 1997). While she had a great doubles career (reaching #1 and winning two slams), Kournikova famously never won a WTA singles crown, going 0-for-4 in her attempts (losing twice to Hingis in tournament finals from 1999-00, and Anna Smashnova in '02). She did win two ITF challengers in 1996.
In the first of those wins, 14-year old Kournikova defeated an 18-year old Lindsey Lee-Waters in Midland, Michigan. While Kournikova last played on tour in 2003 (she's still seen in exhibitions and World Team Tennis), Lee-Waters is still an active pro. In 2016, she played in a challenger event which also included her daughter in the draw (they very nearly played AGAINST each other), and she is 4-4 in ITF events so far in 2017. Lee-Waters will turn 40 in June, the same month in which Kournikova will turn 36. Of course, she's still younger than Venus (weird how that works out, huh?), who played in the Australian Open final in January and is in the Miami draw this week nineteen years after she won her first of three titles at the event over a four-year stretch.
Meanwhile, Kournikova will at least likely be within shouting (or binocular) distance of the grounds again these next two weeks. She's a Miami native, after all.
1. Q1 - Anastasia Potapova def. Maria Sakkari
...6-4/0-6/7-6(2). The 15-year old '16 Wimbledon girls champ, wild card Potapova made her first career WTA match a memorable one. Ranked #454, she faced off with #84-ranked Sakkari. After falling behind 3-0 and 4-2 in the 1st, the Russian battled back to take the set, only to drop the 2nd at love. Potapova nearly squandered a 4-0 lead in the 3rd, where she led 5-2 and held a MP before Sakkari caught her on the scoreboard and things went to a deciding TB. The teenager rebounded again, though, taking it 7-2 to grab her first win in a tour-level event. She fell in her next match, but they were still a few days to remember.
2. Q1 - Taylor Townsend def. Sofya Zhuk
...7-6(3)/7-6(5). Another recent Hordette Wimbledon junior champ (2015), Zhuk didn't get a win in what was just her second WTA match. But, still, the wild card fought back from 5-2 down in the 2nd, saving two MP and forcing a second TB.
3. Q1 - Donna Vekic def. Kayla Day
...4-6/6-2/6-4. A star of the early days of the Indian Wells event, '16 U.S. Open girls champ Day's time in Miami didn't last quite as long in Miami.
4. Q1 - Alison Van Uytvanck def. Elise Mertens
...7-6(5)/7-6(4). In an all-Waffle match-up, #1 Q-seed Mertens fell to Van Uytvanck, in just her second match back since December wrist surgery (she lost in I.W. qualifying to Peng). In January, Mertens missed out on AO qualifying while going from qualifier in Hobart to maiden tour singles champ in Week 2, ultimately running her winning streak to eleven matches, going 15-1 from her title week into Dubai. There, she defeated Tsvetana Pironkova in the 1st Round, then had the misfortune of having to attempt pull a Pironkova/Radwanska double when she faced Aga in the 2nd Round. She lost to the Pole, and hasn't won since. This was her fourth straight loss. Hmmm. I'm not sayin' nuthin'... but I'm just sayin'.
5. Q2 - Jana Cepelova def. Anastasia Potapova
...6-3/6-1. Hmmm, Cepelova is (apparently) healthy (enough) to win back-to-back matches. You know, Charleston is coming up soon. All right... now it's out there.
HM- Q1 - Francesca Schiavone def. Kateryna Kozlova 6-3/6-0
Q2 - Kurumi Nara def. Francesca Schiavone 6-3/6-0
...and, thus, the final clay court season of Francesca Schiavone officially begins.
@miamiopen , 7 giorni da Schiavo, Step 2: This is what happened today... Ecco com'è andata... #SchiavoChannel #me #instagood #instadaily #picoftheday #photooftheday #bestoftheday #beautiful #happy #life #nofilter #francescaschiavone #tennis #tbt #tennisplayer #tennislove #video #wta #friends #schiavone #7giornidaschiavo #keybiscayne #miami #usa #coaching #miamiopen @asicsitalia @duglascordero @anacarolinacod @mrmatute #kozlova @kateryna_kozlova @wta @asicseurope #tennislife
**RECENT MIAMI SINGLES FINALS**
2005 Kim Clijsters/BEL d. Maria Sharapova/RUS
2006 Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS d. Maria Sharapova/RUS
2007 Serena Williams/USA d. Justine Henin/BEL
2008 Serena Williams/USA d. Jelena Jankovic/SRB
2009 Victoria Azarenka/BLR d. Serena Williams/USA
2010 Kim Clijsters/BEL d. Venus Williams/USA
2011 Victoria Azarenka/BLR d. Maria Sharapova/RUS
2012 Aga Radwanska/POL d. Maria Sharapova/RUS
2013 Serena Williams/USA d. Maria Sharapova/RUS
2014 Serena Williams/USA d. Li Na/CHN
2015 Serena Williams/USA d. Carla Suarez-Navarro/ESP
2016 Victoria Azarenka/BLR d. Svetlana Kuznetsova/RUS
[doubles champions since 2005]
2005 Svetlana Kuznetsova & Alicia Molik
2006 Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur
2007 Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur
2008 Katarina Srebotnik & Ai Sugiyama
2009 Svetlana Kuznetsova & Amelie Mauresmo
2010 Gisela Dulko & Flavia Pennetta
2011 Daniela Hantuchova & Aga Radwanska
2012 Maria Kirilenko & Nadia Petrova
2013 Nadia Petrova & Katarina Srebotnik
2014 Martina Hingis & Sabine Lisicki
2015 Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza
2016 Bethanie Mattek-Sands & Lucie Safarova
**INDIAN WELLS & MIAMI**
[reached back-to-back IW/MIA finals]
1991 Monica Seles (L-W)
1994 Steffi Graf (W-W)
1996 Steffi Graf (W-W)
1999 Serena Williams (W-L)
2000 Lindsay Davenport (W-L)
2000 Martina Hingis (L-W)
2005 Kim Clijsters (W-W)
2006 Maria Sharapova (W-L)
2012 Maria Sharapova (L-L)
2013 Maria Sharapova (W-L)
2016 Victoria Azarenka (W-W)
[reached AO/IW/MIA finals in same season]
1991 Monica Seles (W-L-W)
1994 Steffi Graf (W-W-W)
2000 Lindsay Davenport (W-W-L)
2000 Martina Hingis (L-L-W)
2012 Maria Sharapova (L-L-L)
**MOST MIAMI SINGLES TITLES**
33...Serena Williams (2015)
16...Monica Seles (1990)
**MIAMI SINGLES FINALS**
10..Serena Williams (8-2)*
7...Steffi Graf (5-2)
5...Chris Evert (1-4)
5...Maria Sharapova (0-5)*
4...Venus Williams (3-1)*
3...Victoria Azarenka (3-0)*
3...Monica Seles (2-1)
3...Gabriela Sabatini (1-2)
3...Jennifer Capriati (0-3)
2...Kim Clijsters (2-0)
2...Martina Hingis (2-0)*
2...Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario (2-0)
2...Svetlana Kuznetsova (1-1)*
1...Martina Navratilova (1-0)
1...Aga Radwanska (1-0)*
1...Kimiko Date (0-1)*
1...Lindsay Davenport (0-1)
1...Elena Dementieva (0-1)
1...Justine Henin (0-1)
1...Jelena Jankovic (0-1)*
1...Anna Kournikova (0-1)
1...Li Na (0-1)
1...Chanda Rubin (0-1)
1...Carla Suarez-Navarro (0-1)*
1...Judith Weisner (0-1)
1...Natasha Zvereva (0-1)
2005 Kim Clijsters (W)
**MIAMI SINGLES FINALISTS...**
[without grand slam final appearance]
1990 Judith Weisner
1995 Kimiko Date
1996 Chanda Rubin
1998 Anna Kournikova
2015 Carla Suarez-Navarro
[without grand slam title]
1990 Judith Weisner
1994 Natasha Zvereva
1995 Kimiko Date
1996 Chanda Rubin
1998 Anna Kournikova
2008 Jelena Jankovic
2012 Aga Radwanska (W)
2015 Carla Suarez-Navarro
**MOST MIAMI DOUBLES TITLES**
2...Martina Navratilova/Pam Shriver
2...Jana Novotna/Helena Sukova
2...Jana Novotna/Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario
2...Jana Novotna/Martina Hingis
2...Lisa Raymond/Samantha Stosur
1985 Martina Navratilova & Heinz Gunthardt
**PLAYERS WITH BOTH I.W. & MIAMI SINGLES TITLES**
[active, won I.W. but not Miami]
[active, won Miami but not I.W.]
**WON I.W./MIAMI "SUNSHINE DOUBLE" IN SAME SEASON**
1994 - Steffi Graf
1996 - Steffi Graf
2005 - Kim Clijsters
2016 - Victoria Azarenka
1990 - Jana Novotna & Helena Sukova
1997 - Natasha Zvereva
1999 - Martina Hingis
2002 - Lisa Raymond & Rennae Stubbs
2006 - Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur
2007 - Lisa Raymond & Samantha Stosur
2015 - Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza
2016 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands
MIAMI, FLORIDA USA (Premier Mandatory/hard outdoor)
16 Final: Azarenka d. Kuznetsova
16 Doubles Final: Mattek-Sands/Safarova d. Babos/Shvedova
17 Top Seeds: Kerber/Ka.Pliskova
=ROUND OF 16=
#1 Kerber d. Riske
#11 V.Williams d. #7 Kuznetsova
#32 Makarova d. Peng
#24 Babos d. #8 Keys
Puig d. #6 Muguruza
#4 Cibulkova d. Safarova
#9 Svitolina d. #26 Lucic-Baroni
#2 Ka.Pliskova d. #18 Vandeweghe
...Kerber is back at #1, and could face Kasatkina (she def. the German in January, but is now in need of a big win) in the 3rd Round. 2015 finalist Suarez-Navarro is in the same section, but still hasn't fully returned from her injury layoff. Venus (who was last champion in Miami sixteen years ago) might get the surging Mladenovic in the 3rd Round, with '16 Miami finalist/17 I.W. finalist Kuznetsova up next. Will Halep ('16 QF) take a big step in Miami, or settle for a small one? If she can knock off Osaka in her opening match, she could be staring down longtime nemesis Makarova in the 3rd Round. A year ago, the Russian reached the QF after putting up Miami wins over Kvitova and Svitolina. In the fourth quarter of the top half is Konta, who hasn't been totally healthy since January, and she might be tested by Babos (4th Rd. '16) in the 3rd, leading to a possible clash for the winner vs. Keys ('16 QF). Both Babos and Keys lost to Kerber in this event last year.
Can Muguruza maintain the momentum she gathered in the desert? Puig, back on her game after a slow '17 start and in friendly surroundings in Miami, could face Wozniacki in the 3rd Round. The Dane defeated her in January, but a win from the Puerto Rican could reignite #PicaPower, as Puig destroyed Muguruza en route to the Gold in Rio and could see her in the Round of 16 here. I.W. champ Vesnina could face an early obstacle in Safarova in the 3rd in what would be their first meeting since 2006 (!). Former champ Radwanska could face off with Lucic-Baroni in the 3rd as the big-hitting Croat looks to continue her early-season roll. Could Svitolina find a way past her to get another shot at Pliskova? I'm picking the Ukrainian, but I may regret it later. Meanwhile, Pliskova's quest for "cosmic tennis" switches coasts. She reached the I.W. semis while never really feeling good about the "B"-level quality of her desert game. What happens if she finally gets some oceanside satisfaction? The 4th Round could provide a Fed Cup SF preview vs. Vandeweghe.
#11 V.Williams d. #1 Kerber
#32 Makarova d. #24 Babos
Puig d. #4 Cibulkova
#2 Ka.Pliskova d. #9 Svitolina
...might a long three-setter vs. Kuznetsova reduce Venus' chances vs. Kerber? After last week, I have to plant a singles flag in the OTHER half of the Makarova/Vesnina doubles duo. Cibulkova looked more like her usual self in California, so if Puig can come in on a roll this one could be an instant classic in a match-up of players who have recently broken out of their January funks. Pliskova has never lost to Svitolina.
#32 Makarova d. #11 V.Williams
#2 Ka.Pliskova d. Puig
...the last time a Russian played in both the Indian Wells and Miami finals in the same year was Sharapova in 2013. The last time different Russians played in finals of the two events was 2006 (Kuznetsova/Sharapova and Sharapova/Dementieva). These results would produce a final that would at least challenge tournament history, as neither player has won a slam, and only Pliskova has played in a major final.
#2 Ka.Pliskova d. #32 Makarova
...okay, let's try this one again. The last Czech winner in Miami was, well... there hasn't been one. Yet. In fact, the only Czech-born player to ever reach the final was Martina Navratilova, who won the inaugural event in 1985.
#1 Mattek-Sands/Safarova d. #5 Y.Chan/Hingis
#3 Mirza/Strycova d. Jurak/An.Rodionova
Kuznetsova/Mladenovic d. #4 Hlavackova/Peng
#2 Makarova/Vesnina d. #8 Spears/Srebotnik
...Hingis already has two "Sunshine Double" combos in doubles. A third would tie Lisa Raymond's tournament record. Mattek-Sands suffered her first WD loss of the season last week vs. Chan/Hingis.
#1 Mattek-Sands/Safarova d. #3 Mirza/Strycova
#2 Makarova/Vesnina d. Kuznetsova/Mladenovic
...BMS & Safarova are looking to defend their Miami title. The last individual player to do so was Hingis (2014-15), while the last duo was Raymond/Stosur (2006-07). The Russians were runners-up in Miami in both 2014 and '15.
#2 Makarova/Vesnina d. #1 Mattek-Sands/Safarova
...these two duos have met three times, with Team Bucie winning the '15 AO QF and '16 U.S. SF, and the Russians (temporarily) preventing Mattek from reaching the doubles #1 ranking with a win in the WTA Finals championship match last November. Mattek (w/ Mirza) defeated the pair in the Brisbane final in Week 1. The only all-Hordette pair to win in Miami: Kirilenko/Petrova in 2012.