Spain’s Garbiñe Muguruza cruised smoothly past Wang Xinyu from China at the Miami Open presented by Itaú on Friday, extending her winning streak to 7 and her season record to 19-4, while Sofia Kenin and Bianca Andreescu also reached the 3rd round, but seeds Jennifer Brady and Petra Martic did not make the cut.
I was looking forward to playing, but also quite nervous, because this is a tournament I love, and after playing well in the Middle East, I just wanted to keep the same energy and quality of tennis. It was actually very windy out, so that made things tricky. Otherwise, I was just excited to play well for my first round; I was up against sort of an unknown opponent, so I was happy to make it through. Garbiñe Muguruza
Muguruza’s 6-4 6-1 win over Wang was almost pedestrian as the Spaniard went up 3-1 and held on her next service games to win the first set.
Although the second started with a trade of breaks, she broke 3 times more to cruise through in an hour 5 minutes.
“When you play somebody that plays so aggressive, it’s hard to do much,” Muguruza said. “You have to wait for your opportunity.
“She played some incredible points. She also gave me some free points, so that helped me out to stay on the score.”
Fresh off the Dubai title two weeks ago, Muguruza looked to have retained her form against the teenage wild card, who had taken a set off the Spaniard in their only previous meeting at Shenzhen last year.
On this occasion, however, the former World No 1 was focused from the get-go, drilling a cluster of backhand winners to get ahead early.
Wang showed flashes of effortless power to produce 11 winners overall, but her lack of consistency held her back as she offered up too many free points, the 19-year old coughing up 20 unforced errors against the very solid Muguruza.
“I was looking forward to playing, but also quite nervous, because this is a tournament I love, and after playing well in the Middle East, I just wanted to keep the same energy and quality of tennis,” Muguruza said in her post-match press conference. “It was actually very windy out, so that made things tricky.
“Otherwise, I was just excited to play well for my first round; I was up against sort of an unknown opponent, so I was happy to make it through.”
The No 12 seed next takes on Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya, a wild card, who pulled off a dramatic upset of No 20 seed Petra Martic from Croatia, 5-7 6-2 7-6(4), to enjoy a career-best run at a WTA-1000 event.
Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu navigated through a tense opening set to get past Czech qualifier Tereza Martincova, 7-6(5) 6-2.
Playing in just her 3rd tournament after missing the entire 2020 season due to a left knee injury, Andreescu eased into the 3rd round in just under 2 hours.
The No 8 seed returned to action 15 months after her New York triumph at this year’s Australian Open but she opted out of the Middle East swing to regain her fighting form.
She did show signs of rust early on against the 26-year-old Martincova, who played two qualifying matches and, once in the main draw, had dispatched former World No 25 Yaroslava Shvedova in straight sets.
Rallying from 5-3 down in the first set, Andreescu saved 2 set points on Martincova’s serve and managed to force a tiebreak, which involved another comeback from the Canadian, who reversed a 4-2 deficit to win 5 of the final 6 points for the set.
After saving 2 break points to open the second, Andreescu took control, racing ahead 5-0 and holding off a late surge from the qualifier to secure victory in a dramatic final game, out-rallying Martincova to draw a forehand error.
“I felt really good mentally out there,” Andreescu said after the match. “That’s the one thing I feel like I was struggling a little bit in Australia, but I was just super positive and I fought for every ball no matter what the score was,”
“In the first set she had set point, but I just kept fighting, and I think that was the thing I was most proud of.
“I felt that in the first set I wasn’t as consistent as in the second set, but I think that tiebreaker really said a lot, because I started putting more pressure. I was getting to a lot of balls.
“In the second set, you could tell that she became a little discouraged, and she started going for more shots.
“But that’s part of my game style. I want to be very physical out there. I don’t want to let any ball go and just never give up. I think that says a lot today in the match, and it showed.”
In all, Andreescu struck an even 30 winners to 30 unforced errors and converted an impressive 5 of 8 break point opportunities to book a 3rd round meeting with American Amanda Anisimova.
Seeded No 28 in Miami, Anisimova scored an impressive 6-3, 6-3 win over 2018 champion and compatriot Sloane Stephens.
A semi-finalist at the 2019 French Open, Anisimova’s positive COVID-19 test forced her out of the Australian swing, and the teenager had won just one WTA main draw match all season.
“That was definitely really tough, and of course, when I went to Doha, I rolled my ankle,” Anisimova said after the match. “So it was a few tournaments in a row dealing with tough situations.
“I’m just happy that I’ve been able to stay healthy now, grateful for the opportunity that I have here, just to be able to play here.
“I’ve been training a lot the last few weeks, so I feel good mentally, and physically.”
Sofia Kenin, the No 4 seed, has also had it tough but made her welcome return with a tricky win over Germany’s Andrea Petkovic, 6-7(6) 6-1 6-2, after having endured an emergency appendectomy in February.
“I had surgery in Australia,” she told the media in Miami. “I had to get my appendix removed.
“I think that, of course, was unfortunate. I could use that time as a break to get it together.”
Kenin, who was the defending champion at the Australian Open, fell in the 2nd round to Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi and then lost in the 1st round of the Phillip Island Trophy, before experiencing pain and requiring surgery.
“Given the circumstances, I still don’t feel 100 percent tennis-wise, since I took a few weeks off and everything,” she added. “I’m just happy that I’m able to play Miami Open.”
Kenin rallied for victory in her first match on home soil in 6 months in a minute short of 2 hours.
“I’m obviously happy with this win,” she said. “It feels nice to get the win after some time not being on court, playing at tournaments.
“It was very humid. I’m obviously used to this since I live here, but conditions weren’t so easy, but I’m happy that it wasn’t at least windy. I was able to somehow try to play my game.
“I felt a bit more nervous at the beginning, first match after having the surgery and everything. I just told myself, ‘Keep fighting.’ I’m just grateful that I’m able to play here because I really wanted to get ready for the Miami Open and just try and enjoy every minute out there.”
Kenin meets Ons Jabeur, the 27th seed from Tunisia, who outlasted Spain’s Paula Badosa, 7-6(6) 5-7 7-5, after 2 hours 36 minutes.
Meanwhile, Spaniard Sara Sorribes Tormo scored her 10th win in her last 11 matches with a 3-6 6-4 6-1 comeback victory over Australian Open finalist and No 13 seed Jennifer Brady.
The Guadalajara champion earned the 3-set upset in 2 hours 22 minutes, the 9th time she has played more than 2 hours this year.
Sorribes Tormo takes on the No 21 seed Elena Rybakina from Kazakstan, who faced one of the toughest openers of any seed in this year’s draw, the notorious upset-artist Kanepi.
Rybakina has been trying to recapture her dizzying form of early 2020, when she reached 4 finals in 2 months but came into Miami with just a 5-5 win-loss record in 2021.
She twice went down a break in the first set as Kanepi pounded forehands past her, but the Kazakh showed grit in withstanding the Estonian veteran’s baseline power and the 21-year-old turned the opener around by coming through 2 key 4-deuce tussles to hold for 3-4, and then break to seal the set.
By this time, Rybakina’s own groundstrokes were clicking, just as Kanepi’s serve was falling apart.
The World No 64 coughed up 7 double faults in total, and did not muster a game point in the second set as Rybakina raced through the last 10 games in a row.