The 2017 edition of the Miami Open figures to be a big bundle of surprises. Serena Williams is injured. Victoria Azarenka, the defending champion, is still on maternity leave. Maria Sharapova still hasn’t returned from her suspension. Petra Kvitova is still rehabbing after being attacked in her home in the offseason. On top of that, we’re fresh off an Indian Wells event where we saw Elena Vesnina and Svetlana Kuznetsova play in the final. Of course, Kuznetsova continues to show that age is not a factor while Vesnina – possibly – is proving that she’s a youngster on the rise. So many important players in women’s tennis are absent from this event, which throws the direction of this tournament into question.
Let’s take a closer look at the the competition. The 96-player main draw begins on Tuesday, March 21.
Event: Miami Open (Key Biscayne)
Category: WTA Tour – Premier Mandatory
Date: March 21 – April 1, 2017
Location: Crandon Park Tennis Center – Key Biscayne, Florida
With a prize money allotment of nearly $7.7 million, the 1,000-point tournament is charged with a unique degree of urgency. It’s the last hardcourt event before the spring clay season. It’s a premier tournament which occurs just days after another premier tournament in Indian Wells. The players who did well in Indian Wells have a chance to stack on more points and earnings, while those who did not are under pressure to make this tournament count. For instance, Angelique Kerber bowed out early in Indian Wells. If she wants to build her lead over Serena for number one in the rankings, she needs a deep run here. Given how she’s performed so far this season, though, that’s likely a tall order for her. She simply hasn’t been the same since last year – at least as of yet. The Miami Open is an opportunity for her to change her momentum.
Champion – 1,000
Runner-up – 650
Semifinal – 390
Quarterfinal – 215
Round of 16 – 120
Round of 32 – 65
Former Champions and Results (5 Years)
Year Champion Runner-up Score
2016 – Victoria Azarenka def. Svetlana Kuznetsova – 6-3, 6-2
2015 – Serena Williams def. Simona Halep – 6-2, 4-6, 7-5
2014 – Serena Williams def. Maria Sharapova – 6-4, 6-3
2013 – Serena Williams def. Maria Sharapova – 4-6, 6-3, 6-0
2012 – Agnieszka Radwanska def. Maria Sharapova – 7-5, 6-4
Indian Wells provided a final between Elena Vesnina and Svetlana Kuznetsova, players seeded 14th and eighth. It was a random result at the end of a bizarre tournament in which only Karolina Pliskova represented the only player in the top six of the rankings to make the quarterfinals. That’s how wide open the event was. With Serena and Azarenka out of the picture and the other top-six players struggling, everything about this tournament feels wide open. Kerber, Pliskova, Kuznetsova, Garbine Muguruza, Venus Williams, and others will have a shot, but it’s hard to make a lot of bets with certainty. Vesnina and Kuznetsova will likely be tired after their Indian Wells runs, meaning that a different flow of results should emerge in at the Miami Open.
This is a tournament which really doesn’t have one or two favorites. It is as wide open as any Premier Mandatory event on the WTA in quite some time. This means it’s an opportunity for someone similar to Vesnina or perhaps Kiki Mladenovic (who made the semifinals as the number 28 seed) to make a big climb up the rankings ladder and earn a much better position in future tournament draws, especially during the spring clay season.
Crandon Park Tennis Center
The Crandon Park Tennis Center is celebrating its 30th year of hosting the Miami Open. The central stadium court is a court with sprawling decks – it’s not intimate so much as spread out and spacious. It’s a very open court, meaning that any matches played in the middle of the day will give neither fans nor players much relief from the sun. This is a conspicuously difficult weather tournament, the first of the year after the Australian Open, which is played in the middle of the summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Miami weather is more humid, and after a week and a half in the dry conditions of Southern California, Miami can be more taxing. Night matches are a coveted slot at this tournament, because while conditions are warm, they won’t be as punishing.
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