Though still very early, a clear pattern is being established at the 2015 Miami Open: Beware of the favorites. Still facing unseeded opponents in early-round play, a majority—keyword: majority—of the world’s best players moved through without much incident in Thursday’s action.
Agnieszka Radwanska, Venus Williams and Ekaterina Makarova each skated on to the third round with easy victories against their second-round opponents, while the men’s side continues to pave the way for seeded players on bye by filling in the field.
Williams needed just an hour to take down Urszula Radwanska 6-3, 6-2 despite committing a ton of unforced errors and seeming unfocused at points. The No. 16 seed was broken three times but managed to break her opponent back six times, winning 60 percent of her return points on the way to an impressive win.
Agnieszka Radwanska, the sister of Williams’ opponent, had a bit of trouble but got past Anna Schmiedlova by a 6-4, 7-5 score. She took particular advantage of Schmiedlova’s second return, winning nearly two-thirds of the points and taking advantage of mistakes. Schmiedlova committed four double faults and quite a few unforced errors on her way to blowing what would have been a huge upset.
Makarova moved forward in a much breezier fashion, taking down Karin Knapp 6-1, 6-3 in 76 minutes. The Russian dominated on second serves throughout the match, winning 72 percent of her own and 69 percent coming from Knapp. She was broken only one time. Elina Svitolina, the No. 26 seed, awaits her in the third round.
The day’s only major upset was a big one. Maria Sharapova was ousted by countrywoman Daria Gavrilova 7-6, 6-3 in a shocking walkover. Sharapova double-faulted five times, was broken four times on her serve and looked generally discombobulated against the 21-year-old.
Of the remaining notables, most of the rest got through unscathed. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, the No. 19 seed, was the top player to go down in the day’s early session.
Perhaps the day’s two most notable results came from players still in the midst of comeback bids. The ascending Caroline Wozniacki, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, came within one game of a 6-0, 6-0 defeat of Madison Brengle. Wozniacki needed less than 57 minutes to complete the thumping. She won 62 percent of her return points and nearly three-quarters of her first serves.
The former world no. 1 has been impressive since her finals appearance at the U.S. Open, working her way up the rankings and seemingly being more comfortable in her skin than ever. Two weeks removed from winning the BMW Malaysian Open, Wozniacki could make a legitimate case for being the favorite in Miami.
Another comeback effort, this one on the men’s side, hasn’t been going so well.
Juan Martin del Potro, playing in his first match since January, fell 4-6, 6-7 (7) in his first-round matchup with Vasek Pospisil. Del Potro pushed Pospisil for nearly two hours but didn’t quite have what it takes to win a set, succumbing to 13 aces on a dominant first-serve day from the Canadian. Pospisil won all but three points on his first serve and was only broken once.
Del Potro, who has dropped outside of the top 600 in the world rankings due to his injury-related absences, said he was not disappointed by the result.
”I don’t feel frustrated,” del Potro said, per Steve Wine of the Associated Press. ”I have to take the positive things on my comeback. The score doesn’t matter for now.”
At points, you can see flashes of the player who was once ranked No. 4 in the world. Del Potro had six break points, all of which could have been a turning point. He just lost on five of those six chances. He also allowed Pospisil to take advantage on two of the three break points he received, which helped swing the first set.
Outside of the del Potro match, few results were of any significant note on the men’s side. No seeded players were in action for the second straight day, a trend that will conclude with Friday’s second-round action. If you’re looking for intrigue to be added via upsets, Friday might be the day to start paying attention. Because there sure weren’t many Thursday.
Draws can be found via the Miami Open’s official website. The upcoming schedule for Friday and going forward is found on the official website as well.
Text courtesy of bleacherreport.com