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Miami Tuesday: Bencic, Errani & Pliskova Kick Off Main Draw Action

Chris Oddo | Main draw action at the Miami Open begins on Tuesday and we're previewing the key first-round matchups right here at wtatennis.com.

Published March 21, 2017 12:10

Miami Tuesday: Bencic, Errani & Pliskova Kick Off Main Draw Action
Sara Errani

MIAMI, FL, USA - Main draw action at the Miami Open begins on Tuesday and we're previewing the key first-round matchups right here at wtatennis.com.

Tuesday

First round

Sara Errani (ITA #102) vs. Belinda Bencic (SUI #135)
Head-to-head: Bencic leads, 2-0
Key Stat: Errani reached the Miami Open quarterfinals in 2013, her best performance to date.

Two former Top 10 players in search of their best form will tangle on Tuesday at the Miami Open when Belinda Bencic and Sara Errani meet for the third time and first time in over a year. Both players were inside the Top 20 at Miami last year, but neither has been able to win consistently since then. Bencic was besieged by injuries last year and has only won nine of her last 29 tour-level matches. Errani has struggled as well, and has managed only two victories thus far in 2017. Bencic, a former World No.7, and Errani, a former World No.5, are both desperate to find that winning formula. One would think it's just a matter of time—they are both too talented to continue this downward slope.

Pick: Bencic in three

Kristyna Pliskova (CZE #52) vs. Mandy Minella (LUX #74)
Head-to-head: Minella leads, 2-0
Key Stat: Pliskova and Minella have not met since 2012.

Karolina Pliskova's twin sister has been turning a lot of heads with her performances of late, and the World No.52 will hope to attract some more rave reviews on Tuesday when she faces Luxembourg's top player for a spot in the second round at the Miami Open. Like her sister, Pliskova's strong suit is her serve. The southpaw has 103 aces in 12 matches this season, which ranks her 3rd on the WTA Tour. She also ranks 10th in percentage of first-serve points won with 71.8. The fact that she's starting to make her mark statistically is further proof that Pliskova's game is starting to blossom. She was edged by No.5-seeded Dominika Cibulkova in a third-set tiebreaker in the third round at Indian Wells last week, but it feels like she is on the cusp of bigger results. Minella reached the semifinals in January at Tapei but has not won a tour-level match since.

Pick: Pliskova in two

Nicole Gibbs (USA #119) vs. Carina Witthoeft (GER #71)
Head-to-head: Gibbs leads, 2-1
Key Stat: Gibbs has only one Top 100 win this season.

American Nicole Gibbs will look to snap a four-match losing streak on home soil when she faces promising 22-year-old Carina Witthoeft, a German that she has defeated in two of three previous meetings. But Gibbs has struggled of late and has not notched a win since reaching the third round at the Australian Open. She dropped out of the Top 100 for the first time in over a year this week. Witthoeft has won four of six tour-level matches in 2017 but lost her first qualifying match at Indian Wells.

Pick: Gibbs in three

Peng Shuai (CHN #43) vs. Danka Kovinic (SRB #78)
Head-to-head: Peng leads, 1-0
Key Stat: Peng's next win will be her 12th of the season. In 2016 she only earned six tour-level wins all season.

China's Peng Shuai has never been past the Round of 16 at the Miami Open, but he has been super steady in the early rounds, winning her first match in her last ten appearances. China's No.2 player will look to push that streak to 11 when she faces hard-hitting Danka Kovinic of Serbia on Tuesday. Kovinic reached the second round in her first main draw appearance at Miami last year before falling to Johanna Konta in straight sets.

Pick: Peng in three

By the Numbers:
7 - Number of three-set matches that Kristyna Pliskova has played already this season, which ranks third on tour.
2010 - The year a Wild Card made the deepest run at the Miami Open, when Justine Henin reached the semifinals. Gibbs is one of eight Wild Cards in this year's main draw.
2016 - The last year a player won the "Sunshine Double" of Indian Wells and Miami in the same season (Victoria Azarenka). Kim Clijsters (2005) and Steffi Graf (1994, 1996) are the other two women that have achieved the feat.

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