- The Miami Open often has long-shot champions. This pandemic year, that’s even more likely
- The last player seeded higher than No. 10 to win was Serena Williams – back in 2014
- We look at who might come through at this two-week event; main draw starts Tuesday
No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty, the de facto defending Miami Open champion after winning it in 2019 (the pandemic canceled it last year), hasn’t played in a month and still has barely played any tennis in a year.
The strongest favorite, Naomi Osaka, has yet to pass the third round in four trips to Miami.
Garbiñe Muguruza, the on-form player this year, has played Miami eight times but has topped out in the fourth round (five times). But at least she got there five times.
If recent history is any guide, a lower seed will win. Muguruza is seeded No. 12.
WTA Miami Open Odds
|||Naomi Osaka (JPN)||+400|
|||Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP)||+700|
|||Ashleigh Barty (AUS)||+900|
|||Simona Halep (ROU)||+1000|
|||Aryna Sabalenka (BLR)||+1200|
|||Jennifer Brady (USA)||+1300|
|||Iga Swiatek (POL)||+1600|
|||Bianca Andreescu (CAN)||+1700|
|||Madison Keys (USA)||+2000|
|||Petra Kvitova (CZE)||+2000|
|||Victoria Azarenka (BLR)||+2500|
|||Jessica Pegula (USA)||+3000|
|||Sofia Kenin (USA)||+3300|
|||Elina Svitolina (UKR)||+3300|
|||Karolina Pliskova (CZE)||+4000|
|||Coco Gauff (USA)||+4500|
|–||Venus Williams (USA)||+15000|
Odds from March 22 at DraftKings
Top Seeds Way Down the List
You can see by the odds table above how all over the place everything is.
The No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 seeds (including the 2019 finalist Karolina Pliskova), are right near the bottom.
Serena Williams out of Miami Open.
“I’m disappointed to withdraw from the Miami Open because of recent oral surgery. Miami is a special tournament for me because it’s my home. I am sad I won’t be able to see the incredible fans this year, but I look forward to coming back soon.”
— Michelle Kaufman (@kaufsports) March 21, 2021
Hard-hitting Aryna Sabalenka has never done a thing in Miami. Reigning French Open champion Iga Swiatek is making her main-draw debut in her second career trip.
Bianca Andreescu, the No. 8 seed, has only played it once.
Serena Williams, who has won it multiple times, pulled out late after oral surgery.
Miami Open Contenders – Best Previous Results
|Player||Trips to Miami||Best Result|
|Naomi Osaka||4||R32 (2017)|
|Garbine Muguruza||8||R16 (5X)|
|Ashleigh Barty||3||Champion (2019)|
|Simona Halep||8||SF (2X)|
|Aryna Sabalenka||2||R64 (2018)|
|Jennifer Brady||3||1R (3X)|
|Bianca Andreescu||1||4th rd (retd. injury)|
With so many players not match tough, and others so inexperienced with the heat and humidity in Florida, the outcome may depend on how tough a player’s quarter is and what the matchups look like.
1st Quarter Full of Possibilities for Barty
Despite Barty’s inactivity, she’s one of the few players in the draw who has actually won the tournament – and recently.
The seeds in her section are No. 25 Alison Riske (who traveled to Australia, but didn’t even play the Australian Open because of injury) and No. 14 Azarenka (the 2016 champion was forced out of the Middle East tournaments with a back injury).
Barty’s potential quarterfinal opponent, on paper, is No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka – who has never done a thing in Miami
Prognosis: Very good
2nd Quarter full of potholes for Halep
Simona Halep also hasn’t played since Australia. She pulled out of the Middle East events because her back “wasn’t 100-percent”.
She wouldn’t have gone to Miami if she weren’t healthy; Halep has been a cautious traveler during the pandemic. But she has some challengers – young ones.
The Romanian could face 17-year-old Coco Gauff (seeded No. 31) in the third round, and then possibly Swiatek
3rd Quarter Muguruza’s for the Taking
When you look at Muguruza’s section of the draw, no wonder she’s a favorite. And not just because she just won in Dubai a few weeks ago.
Not only is the 27-year-old Spaniard playing championship tennis, she has No. 8 seed Andreescu (who is shaking off the rust) as a potential fourth round.
On paper, her quarterfinal opponent would be No. 4 Sofia Kenin, who had an appendectomy in Australia and hasn’t played since.
No. 13 Jennifer Brady could well come out of that Kenin section. But she’s never won a match in Miami.
Prognosis: Smooth Sailing
4th Quarter Promising for Osaka
Having spent most of her life in Florida, Osaka is well used to the conditions. But she’s never done well in Miami – yet.
She has extremely positive head-to-heads against every player in her section – except Pliskova. But she’s in a real slump.
And, she’s 1-3 against the pesky, annoying Yulia Putintseva, who could be her third-round opponent.
Beyond that, the only thing stopping her from the final four is some court rust.
Prognosis: Tricky, but doable
Previous Miami Open Winners and Finalists
|2020||Canceled (pandemic)||Canceled (pandemic)|
|2019|| Ashleigh Barty (AUS)|| Karolina Pliskova (CZE)|
|2018|| Sloane Stephens (USA)|| Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)|
|2017|| Johanna Konta (GBR)|| Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)|
|2016|| Victoria Azarenka (BLR)|| Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)|
|2015|| Serena Williams (USA)|| Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP)|
|2014|| Serena Williams (USA)|| Li Na (CHN)|
|2013|| Serena Williams (USA)|| Maria Sharapova (RUS)|
Potential First-Round Upsets to Look At
- Paula Badosa (+225) over Jil Teichmann (-286)
- Bernarda Pera (+210) over Sara Sorribes Tormo (-275)
- Alizé Cornet (+133) over Svetlana Kuznetsova (-167)
Best Bet: Garbiñe Muguruza (+700)
Longer shot: Jessica Pegula (+3000)