March madness at the Miami Open — Week 1 quotes — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, Mar. 28, 2023

Happy Tennis Tuesday, y’all! While the Elite Eight was wrapping up in women’s college basketball — shout out to my Ohio State Buckeyes for an incredible season and tournament run — the Miami Open has theirs set:

(25) Martina Trevisan vs. (10) Elena Rybakina
(3) Jessica Pegula vs. (27) Anastasia Potapova
(18) Ekaterina Alexandrova vs. (15) Petra Kvitova
Sorana Cirstea vs. (2) Aryna Sabalenka

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How did we get here?

Remember when I said last week that Iga Swiatek would likely cruise to the final weekend? Well, the World No. 1 withdrew before main draw action begin from both Miami and next week’s Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers. Martina Trevisan has played some of the best hardcourt tennis of her career to make her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal, taking out 2018 finalist Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets yesterday. However, Elena Rybakina’s on fire and even though she hasn’t played the smoothest tennis, I see her coming through to continue her hunt for the Sunshine Double.

While Trevisan made her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal, the heavily consistent Jessica Pegula reached her twelveth. She’s looked right at home this first week not having dropped a set and producing a 6-1 breadstick in each of her three matches that include one over friend Magda Linette. I definitely like her chances against Anastasia Potapova, who is in the biggest quarterfinal of her career. She clawed out a gutsy battle to upset Coco Gauff in the third round and might’ve been the underdog yesterday against Zheng Qinwen. However, she ralled in two tight sets to continue towards a breakthrough.

Ekaterina Alexandrova looks to match her Madrid Open semifinal from last year and found herself in the quarterfinals due to unfortunate circumstances. After scraping by the first set in a tiebreak against a resurgent Bianca Andreescu, she was down a break when the Canadian injured her ankle and had to be taken off court in a wheelchair. I’m not one to speculate, but I’m hoping it’s nothing serious — and not the Achilles like some have speculated online. She will face Petra Kvitova, who hasn’t dropped a set, but has been pushed to two tiebreak sets and a 7-5. The loser of this match is the poor tennis ball, who will have the felt ripped off. Oh, we’re talking predictions — sorry! I think Petra will finally make it fourth time lucky and reach her first Miami Open semifinal.

In the final quarterfinal matchup, we have one of the best players in all of 2023, Aryna Sabalenka playing against a resurgent Sorana Cirstea. Cirstea has made her own Sunshine Double by making consecutive quarterfinals out of nowhere and also defeating Caroline Garcia in back-to-back fortnights. Neither player has dropped a set, but Sabalenka was mighty impressive in her fourth round win over Barbora Krejcikova and with her improved serve, I don’t think anyone but Elena Rybakina can stop her.

So, how does this all unfold?

(10) Elena Rybakina def. (25) Martina Trevisan in 2
(3) Jessica Pegula def. (27) Anastasia Potapova in 2
(15) Petra Kvitova def. (18) Ekaterina Alexandrova in 2
(2) Aryna Sabalenka def. Sorana Cirstea in 2

(10) Elena Rybakina def. (3) Jessica Pegula in 3
(2) Aryna Sabalenka def. (15) Petra Kvitova in 2

I’m very hopeful this will happen, but I think Aryna Sabalenka gets revenge and denies Elena Rybakina of the Sunshine Double at the final hurdle

(2) Aryna Sabalenka def. (10) Elena Rybakina in 3

Don’t kill me if I’m wrong. Instead, check out the links!

This Week in Women’s Tennis

Peter Bodo discusses the WTA-CVC Capital partnership and how prize money — specifically equal prize money — will (hopefully) take shape from the deal.

If Barbora Krejcikova has any power, she’s working on making sure the WTA’s “Big 3” — Iga Swiatek, Elena Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka — will have room for a fourth.

Speaking of “Big 3,” all three players headline the stacked entry list for the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart.

Robin Montgomery finally captured her first WTA win this week in Miami and WTA Insider profiled the teen from Maryland who swept the singles and doubles titles at the 2021 US Open junior event.

Equipment changes can be a stroke of luck for a player, but sometimes quite the opposite. Zheng Qinwen tinkered with her racquets, but ultimately switched back and is finding her rhythm on the match court again.

Technology in tennis is constantly evolving and that’s no different with Tennis Australia and Infosys’ partnership.

Elena Svitolina will make her comeback in two weeks in Charleston, with a “Tennis Play for Peace” event in tow. Meanwhile, the Russia-Ukraine conflict is over a year in, but players still feel the effects in the locker room.

Armed with Pam Shriver in her camp, Donna Vekic is finding some of the same form that lifted her into the Top 20 years ago.

Did you know the USTA National Billie Jean King Tennis Center is more than just a tennis host? My dog’s breeder mentioned the Westminster Dog Show will be held there this year, among other sporting events in 2023 and beyond.

Co-owner Roger Federer had quite the influence on Iga Swiatek to join the On apparel team, who is expecting a big first year in the tennis market.

Mika Ikemori never let her seizure disorder prevent her from the sport she loves and that dedication helped her earn a scholarship to play at UC Davis in the fall.

Players at the Miami Open offered their time to help give back to the local Miami-Dade community, including some cute cuddles with the Humane Society.

Congrats to The IX friend, Katie Spellman!

Tweet of the Week

Not a tweet, but Christina McHale sat down with the Just Slap podcast to discuss her career, goals following retirement and more. It was a fun listen:

Five at The IX: Miami Open Week 1

Q. Somebody on commentary said you and Emma were born in the same hospital. Do you know if that’s true?

BIANCA ANDREESCU: That’s weird. That is weird. No, no one’s ever said that. I was born in Mississauga, hospital in Mississauga. That’s crazy if that’s the case. That hospital was two US Open champs. That’s pretty big (laughter).

Q. On a slightly wider subject, do you feel like you and Rybakina and Sabalenka are making a little bit of distance between yourselves and the rest of the field?

IGA SWIATEK: Hmm… It’s a hard question because there are also, like, many players who play great tennis. On the other hand, last year you could say that about me and Ons little bit. So I think we need, like, couple more tournaments or couple more months to kind of, I don’t know, judge that.

But I’m never going to think of myself or somebody who’s, like, suddenly in a different place because I still am aware that each of us can win the tournaments. I kind of want to be ready and on my toes all the time to face my opponents.

I don’t look at it that way. But for sure we played many matches. I played against Aryna, like, I don’t know six times last year, and against Elena twice this year already. You can see that there’s like maybe little bit of a rivalry.

As I said, I also know that there are many other players that can perform really well.

Q. Talk about that a little bit. Was it surreal at all to be doing your professional job and kind of have that personal side kind of weirdly in your zone?

JESSICA PEGULA: It’s so weird, but it’s so cool at the same time. It was totally random, too. Like, they were filming I think for “NFL Embedded.” And Dion lives in Fort Lauderdale, and I think Kaiir lives in West Palm now. So I think he just said, Oh, I’m going to go watch the tennis. And they’re, like: Wait, Jesse is playing. Go watch her match, and if she wins, we’ll film something after.

It was just a really cool moment. I think it was both their first tennis event, so they knew nothing. They didn’t even know what doubles was. I was, like, Oh, Coco is playing, my doubles partner.

They were, like, Oh, we have to go scout her out.

I was, like, No, we play on the same team.

They’re, like: Wait. On the same — how? Like you guys — one is at the net and —

I’m, like, Yeah and then you alternate (laughing).

Yeah, so it was funny, and I told them we need to do a little tennis camp where I run them through some drills. I think Dion, he said he wouldn’t do great on the movement part. He is a big boy. He is, like — he was shocked.

I said, Well, that match was really only an hour. That’s not that long. It could go two to three, you know.

And he is, like, Three hours? You get a break, right?

I’m, like, Not really. This isn’t football. I was giving him crap.

So they’re, like, What are you trying to say?

I’m, like, You know what I’m trying to say.

It’s fun to banter with them back and forth. Yeah, I asked them too how they felt coming out onto the field in a different scenario. And they were, like, Yeah, it’s definitely weird being here. They’ve been there so many times, to come out and watch a tennis event I’m sure is interesting, but it’s a cool way to bridge both the sports together. I like it.

Q. Looking ahead to the clay season, how much of it do you think will help turning the page a little bit onto a new surface? Does the game simplify for you on clay or is it the same as when you play on hard court in terms of how you approach it?

COCO GAUFF: I definitely think the game does simplify a little bit. I have a clearer picture of how I want to play on that surface. I definitely think physically usually those are the players that are doing well on clay, so I think that’s why it suits me a lot.

Taking in what I’ve done on the hard court season I think will help me into the clay season because, yeah, like I said, last year I didn’t have a great start, and that clay season turned it around.

Even though this tournament didn’t go how I wanted, I would say I had a decent start to the year. I’m hoping I can have an even better clay season than last year.

Yeah, I mean, there’s one more thing I have, Billie Jean King Cup, then switching to clay. I guess we’ll focus on that. I’m going to use BJK Cup to figure out what I need to do on the hard court to get ready for the hard court season after Wimbledon.

Q. How would you kind of sum up where you are? This is almost like a natural break in the season in a way after this for everyone. Where would you sum up where you are after three months compared to last year?

EMMA RADUCANU: I think that I’m doing the right things day to day, which brings me confidence. I feel like this year has been difficult in the sense that I have been managing a few existing injuries. Yeah, that has been annoying and frustrating because I’ve been working as best as I can.

I feel like I’m enjoying the competition. Yeah, just really, really happy to be on the match court.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon