Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: WTA Miami Open: Semi-Finals Preview

WTA Miami Open: Semi-Finals Preview

Ashleigh Barty

We take an in-depth look at the WTA Miami Open semi-finals featuring Ashleigh Barty vs Elina Svitolina and Maria Sakkari vs Bianca Andreescu.

Image Copyright - Steve Haag Sports

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

1st April 2021

Ashleigh Barty 46/100 | Elina Svitolina 33/20
Ashleigh Barty produced one of her best performances of the year in the quarterfinal against the brutal Aryna Sabalenka. That was a proper banana peel match. The three-set victory highlighted all her best attributes, including her undeniable tenacity. She didn’t drop serve once and saved all seven break points she faced (Sabalenka won the second set in a tiebreak). She used her serve to noticeable effect in the match. Though not the biggest of servers on tour by any stretch, her pinpoint accuracy was able to pull Sabalenka out of position constantly. Barty should be further buoyed by the ouster of Naomi Osaka in the quarterfinal stage. This gives her the opportunity to extend her Number One lead. She hasn’t been dominant this week but she does seem to be growing into her best form. The 2019 Champion will be coming up against a player who has really dominated her over her career. 

I have to admit, I’m quite shocked by just how well Svitolina has played this week. Having not reached a semi-final in ages, I was almost prepared to discard her as an elite player. But she has proved me wrong this week with a devastating display. In fact, this is now the first time that she has reached the semi-finals in Miami. I predicted that she would be easily dumped out by Petra Kvitova. And after the Czech easily won the first set, I felt vindicated. But she showed remarkable courage and skill to win that match in three. She then absolutely trounced Sevatsova in the quarterfinals. She was flawless, hitting 19 winners and winning a remarkable 70% of her return points. 

As I said earlier, Svitolina has actually dominated their head-to-head encounters. She leads 5-1 in that department, winning the first five matches. Barty won their last meeting at the 2019 WTA Finals (she won the Championship match). That is incredibly significant when you consider the size of that event.  There is a general feeling amongst scribes that Barty has too much ring-rust, that Svitolina is playing her best tennis. I still think the Aussie will prevail. Going back to the Osaka defeat, Barty really has the opportunity to make a statement this week. Back Barty here at 46/100.

2nd April 2021

Maria Sakkari 8/10 | Bianca Andreescu 98/100
Bianca Andreescu had seemingly disappeared from the planet in recent times. The Canadian was one of the hottest properties in tennis following her breakthrough 2019 season. It was really a showcase of North American hardcourt power. She won in Indian Wells prior to that herculean run at Flushing Meadows (she beat Serena Williams in straight sets in the final). But an injury sustained during the 2019 WTA Finals kept her from action leading up to the lockdown. She was ultimately out for 15 months leading up to this year’s Aussie Open. It showed: she lost poorly in her second-round tie. But a semi-final run at the Phillip Island Trophy was more like it. She then had fitness issues that kept her out of the Middle East swing. Andreescu has been an ironwoman this week, surviving three three-set marathons. That included an epic match against Garbine Muguruza that really announced her return to prominence, including a truly memorable squash-style get. 

Maria Sakkari and coach Tom Hill have worked tirelessly to get her back into a winning mentality. She started the year in fine form with a semi-final run in Abu Dhabi. It seemed to indicate that their plan for long-term success was starting to come to fruition. She then had the misfortunate of boarding a plane to Australia that had Covid-positive passengers on board. She reached the semi-finals of the Grampians Trophy but lacked her usual intensity at the Aussie Open. This week she seemed to have finally hit the sweet spot between all-court aggression and reason. Sakkari saved six match-points against Pegula in the fourth round. She followed that up by producing the shock of the tournament against Naomi Osaka. I don’t know how much of that was Sakkari brilliance or Osaka meltdown. 

This will be the first meeting between these two. This is actually a real whodunnit. On one hand, you have Andreescu, a Grand Slam champion who looks to be back to her best. But on the other, you have the woman who knocked out Naomi Osaka in style. Andreescu has also spent far more time on court. I’m still opting for the Canadian. I think that much of the Osaka victory was down to Osaka herself. Outside of the Grand Slams, Osaka seems to have implosions baked into her game. Back Andreescu here at a shade under even money.

Written by Damien Kayat.

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