As it happens very often with WTA tournaments, it’s very hard to predict the winner ahead of the 2019 Miami Open. Five players are also in contention for the No. 1 ranking. There are five previous winners in the field, including Venus Williams (1998, 1999, 2001), Serena Williams (2002-2004, 2007-2008, 2013-2015), Victoria Azarenka (2009, 2011, 2016), Johanna Konta (2017), and the defending champion Sloane Stephens (2018). It’s also impossible to predict how the surface will affect the state of play as 2019 marks the first edition of the Miami Open since moving the tournament venue from Crandon Park to Hard Rock Stadium.
Quarter 1 – Can Osaka No. 1 ranking?
The US Open and Australian Open winner starts against a qualifier and is projected to face the always dangerous Su-Wei Hsieh in the third round. The fourth round might see her play renowned but not in-form opponents like Garbine Muguruza and Caroline Wozniacki. The other half of the section features 8th seed and Indian Wells runner-up Angelique Kerber, and her conqueror Bianca Andreescu. Aryna Sabalenka hits with immense power but hasn’t been playing that well lately, and someone like Amanda Anisimova might take advantage.
Contenders: Osaka, Kerber, Andreescu, Sabalenka, Muguruza
Possible bring the popcorn matchups: Kerber vs Andreescu (R3), Osaka vs Hsieh (R3), Muguruza vs Wozniacki (R3), Sabalenka vs Kerber/Andreescu (R4), Osaka vs Muguruza/Wozniacki (R4)
Quarter 2 – Kvitova, Kvitova, Kvitova, possibly Barty
This has the Czech player’s name written all over it. Petra Kvitova has been in stunning form this season. She’s the No. 1 in Race to Singapore and even an opening-round loss to Venus Williams in Indian Wells shouldn’t be enough to destroy her confidence. The opposition will have its chances though, especially with probably one of three of Bertens/Barty/Keys awaiting the Czech in the quarterfinals.
Contenders: Kvitova, Barty, Bertens, Azarenka, Keys
Possible bring the popcorn matchups: Azarenka vs Cibulkova (R1), Barty vs Keys (R3), Kvitova vs Azarenka (R4)
Quarter 3 – Can the defending champion Stephens regain momentum?
Sloane Stephens hasn’t shown anything yet this year, and her 3-6 0-6 loss to Stephanie Voegele in Indian Wells certainly doesn’t bode well for her chances here. Karolina Pliskova seems to be quite in form, Belinda Bencic has just reached the semifinals in Indian Wells (beating the aforementioned Pliskova in the quarterfinals), and Jelena Ostapenko has proven to be quite capable on slower hard courts in the past.
Contenders: Pliskova, Bencic, Sevastova, Ostapenko, Stephens
Possible bring the popcorn matchups: Giorgi vs Stephens (R3), Bencic vs Sevastova (R3), Pliskova vs Buzarnescu (R3), Pliskova vs Bencic (R4)
Quarter 4 – Which Williams sister will go further?
It’s a little bit unfair to Halep and Svitolina to make this about the Williams sisters. In fact, this quarter is just as packed as the first one ,and although their 31st match might happen here in the quarterfinals, the chances are slim at best. A very interesting aspect of this section is also the performance of Mari Osaka (Naomi’s sister), who received a very controversial wild card.
Contenders: Halep, Serena Williams, Svitolina, Venus Williams, Danielle Collins
Possible bring the popcorn matchups: Venus vs Suarez Navarro (R2), Venus vs Halep (R3), Svitolina vs Collins (R3), Serena vs Svitolina/Collins (R4)