Miami | Boulter beats Haddad Maia, as Swiatek advances but Sabalenka is eliminated by Kalinina

Once again the start of play on Saturday was delayed 3 hours by rain, before the Miami Open saw Katie Boulter upset Beatriz Haddad Maia, Aryna Sabalenka implode against Anhelina Kalinina, and Iga Swiatek sail past Camilla Giorgi, while several other top seeds tumbled out of the WTA 1000 draw.

It's always tough to play on big stages against these top players. Today was really tough with nerves, but I managed in the tough moments to deal with it. Anhelina Kalinina

Boulter, the British No 1, took down Haddad Maia, the No 11 seed, 6-2 6-3, to make it into the Last 16 in Miami for the first time, and earning her second win in 2 months over the Brazilian.

Barely troubled by the World No 11, whom she beat last month on her way to the WTA 500 San Diego title, Boulter wrapped up the win in 90 minutes, and the 27-year-old now will meet tour veteran Victoria Azarenka in the 4th round, after the Belarusian, seeded 27, out-foxed China’s Zheng Qinwen, the World No 7, 6-4 7-5.

Boulter is in dominant form as she continues her stellar start to 2024, and her latest win will see her rise to a career high in the rankings.


Anhelina Kalinina upset World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka in 3 sets on Saturday night

© Al Bello/Getty Images

In the last match of the day on the Stadium, Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine, the No 32 seed, upset World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka, 6-4 1-6 6-1, and scored her first win over a Top 10 player this season, having posted a record of 1-5 against opponents at this level last year.

In what was her second match following the death of her former boyfriend and ex-NHL player, Konstantin Koltsov, Sabalenka’s emotions finally spilled over, and the Belarusian reacted angrily to the defeat, smashing her racket onto the court in frustration.

Koltsov died at the age of 42 on Monday in what police described as an apparent suicide in Miami.

In her opening match, Kalinina had valiantly fought back from match point down to topple Denmark’s former World No 1 Caroline Wozniacki.

“It’s always tough to play on big stages against these top players,” said Kalinina, who will play Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva in the next round. “Today was really tough with nerves, but I managed in the tough moments to deal with it.”

Kalinina came back from a break down in the first set, but Sabalenka found her rhythm to strike back in her typical, aggressive style, in the second, before the Belarusian’s 55 unforced errors helped the Ukrainian race out to a 4-0 lead in the decider.

Up next for Kalinina is Putintseva, the 32nd seed from Kazakhstan, who got past Belgian Greet Minnen, 6-2 2-6 6-4.

For Sabalenka, she drops to 3-3 in her win-loss match record since successfully defending her Australian Open title in January.


Top seed Iga Swiatek breezed past Camila Giorgi to open her campaign at the Miami Open and will play Linda Noskova for the third time this year

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Polish World No 1 Iga Swiatek breezed past Italy’s Camila Giorgi, 6-2 6-1, in just 67 minutes, successfully opening her campaign to become only the second woman in professional tennis to win the Sunshine Double, twice.

“It was great, as usual, here,” she said afterwards. “Very happy I had an opportunity to play on centre court because it’s been two years.

“I was feeling pretty confident, and I just wanted to see how I was going to feel the surface.”

Giorgi’s poor performance on the serve made the Pole’s job easier as the Italian committed a staggering 9 double faults during the match.

With her almost flawless win, the Pole reaches the 81-19 mark in her first 100 in WTA-1000 matches, tying now with Maria Sharapova and only behind Serena Williams at 87-13.

Swiatek takes on Linda Noskova next, against whom she holds a 2-1 record, in what will be their 3rd meeting of the year, the 19-year-old Czech having prevailed in a 3-setter at the Australian Open, while the 22- year old Pole won in Indian Wells in straight sets.

“Playing against her is tough, as you could see in Australia,” Swiatek said. “I’m going to focus on myself and learn what I did wrong, what I did well on our last matches, and just use that knowledge so I can play solidly, really efficiently.”

Noskova also received a bye in the 1st-round and downed Russian qualifier Maria Timofeeva, 6-4 6-4, to reach the round of 32.

Swiatek saw the funny side  as she poked fun at the WTA about their coming match-up.

“Yeah, it’s our third match, so pretty interesting,” she said. “I mean, it would be nice if WTA could draw so we don’t get bored. I’m kidding!”

“It’s still going to be my second day of playing here, so I’m taking it easy. I’ll just fight for every ball.”

Whoever wins out of Swiatek and Noskova will face a Russian, either 14th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova or 21st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, in the 4th-round.


Elina Avanesyan took out Ons Jabeur, the 6th seed, in 3 sets

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Meanwhile, by the end of Saturday evening, 4 of the Top 10 saw their hopes dashed during a jam-packed stretch of action.

6th seed Ons Jabeur from Tunisia suffered a shock 6-1 4-6 6-3 defeat at the hands of World No 65 Elina Avanesyan of Russia.

It was the 4th consecutive defeat for the 29-year-old World No 6.

21-year-old Avanesyan next takes on American Danielle Collins in the round of 32, who easily dispatched Anastasia Potapova, the Russian No 30 seed, 6-2 6-2.

Avanesyan’s compatriot, Anna Kalinskaya, an Australian Open quarter-finalist and the finalist in Dubai, also progressed, bundling out Latvian 9th seed Jelena Ostapenko, 6-3 6-1, and the Russian now will meet Maria Sakkari, the No 8 seed from Greece, who made it into the Last 16 with a hard-earned 7-5 6-4 win over Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska.

Kalinskaya blasted past Ostapenko, converting 4 of her 6 break points to remain undefeated against Top 10 opponents in 2024.

Japan’s Naomi Osaka picked up the second victory over a Top 20 player in her past 4 matches, eclipsing World No 17 Elina Svitolina, 6-2 7-6(5), in a battle between 2 returning mothers.

The 2022 Miami finalist needed an hour and a half to outlast the 15th seed, producing her best tennis of the year to take down the Ukrainian in straight sets on Saturday afternoon.

“I definitely do think it was one of my best matches, if not the best match [of the year],” Osaka said in her post-match press conference. “But I also want myself to play better and better every match.

“For me going into the match, I knew that she’s a great player and I had no choice but to play really well if I wanted a chance to win.”

Originally scheduled for Friday, Osaka and Svitolina’s match had to be postponed after a day of rain and thunderstorms washed out most of the day’s play.

As a result of Saturday’s packed schedule, the match was moved from the Stadium Court to the smaller Butch Buchholz Court, but the Japanese player said the switch suited, as it gave the match a more intimate feel.

“I honestly think the court was really cool, just like having everyone surrounding and everyone was so loud and vocal,” she said. “It just felt like Miami. It was really cool to play on that court.”

Osaka used her firepower to dictate the rallies and go for winners, but Svitolina absorbed her pace and forced her into hitting one more shot, allowing the errors to rack up.

The Japanese pulled away in the first set when she reeled off the last 4 games in a row with a double break, but found herself locked in battle against Svitolina once again in the tight second.

After trading breaks, Osaka needed 2 match points in the ensuing tiebreak to seal the win, striking 5 aces, and dropping her serve just once in the match, which lasted 91 minutes.

“I feel like the break points were extremely valuable,” the former World No 1 said. “I felt, like, for me, that’s one of the key things I was trying to get better at, I guess, from the start of the year, from Australia.

“I’m trying to get better at returning. I feel like it did pay off at the important moments, so I’m happy about that.”


Naomi Osaka won the battle of two returning mothers when she beat Elina Svitolina in straight sets

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Osaka then told press that she thought her coach Wim Fissette had been joking when he told her that she was set to face No 23 seed Caroline Garcia from France once again in what will be their 4th career meeting, with 3 of these coming this year.

“Man, we’re friends at this point! We’re just, you know, work buddies,” Osaka said with a grin. “We see each other all the time. It’s funny. I just want to be seeded so I can just stop playing her, like…”

While Osaka leads their overall head to head 2-1, their encounters in 2024 have been decided by razor-thin margins, the Frenchwoman having scored her first win over Osaka in the Australian Open 1st-round, toppling the two-time champion 6-4 7-6(2) in the 3rd match since her return from maternity leave.

Osaka avenged that loss in Doha, where she notched up a 7-5 6-4 victory on her way to her first quarter-final of the year.

“She’s an amazing player. I know this. Every match we play is really difficult,” Osaka said. “It’s just going to be interesting playing on these courts, because I really like these hard courts.”

Garcia, who is ranked No 27, while Osaka, a former World No 1, currently sits at 229, advanced to the 3rd-round when her opponent, Viktorija Tomova retired with the score standing at 6-1, 5-2 in the Frenchwoman’s favour.

World No 4 Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan was also tested on Saturday, but survived the challenge put up by American Taylor Townsend, 6-3 6-7(3) 6-3, to line up a clash with another, 17th seed Madison Keys, who was a 6-4 7-6(5) winner over China’s Wang Xinyu.

Rybakina, who missed Indian Wells due to an illness, finished as the runner-up here last year to Petra Kvitova.


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