Serena Williams begins the defense of her Sony Open Tennis crown on Thursday, taking on Yaroslava Shvedova
WTA Staff

MIAMI, FL, USA - After receiving first round byes, Thursday will see the seeds in the top half of the draw make their bow at this year's Sony Open Tennis. Defending champion Serena Williams tops the bill, while title rival Maria Sharapova is also on court.

Read more details and stats about Thursday's match-ups in our Match Notes.

Thursday, Second Round

[1] Serena Williams (USA #1) vs. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ #59)
Williams leads 3-0
By her very high standards, Serena Williams may be a tad disappointed with her start to the year. After starting with a bang and a title in Brisbane, the American suffered surprise defeats to Ana Ivanovic at the Australian Open and then Alizé Cornet in Dubai. Next stop is her home event, the Sony Open Tennis, where she has taken home the silverware on a record six occasions, including last year.

She begins her defense against the talented, yet unpredictable, Yaroslava Shvedova. Although she has taken just one set from their three previous meetings, Shvedova has played well in the last month and has an attacking, all-court game that could cause Williams problems if she is not firing on all cylinders.

[4] Maria Sharapova (RUS #7) vs. Kurumi Nara (JPN #45)
first meeting
Like Williams, Maria Sharapova views Miami as her home event, having received her tennis schooling up the road at the Bollettieri Tennis Academy. And while she has a similarly impressive record there, reaching the final on five of her past six visits, the title has always eluded her.

Her latest quest begins against Kurumi Nara, and, if recent form is anything to go by, it is no gimme. This time last year Nara was out plying her trade on the ITF Circuit, but a great start to the new season, highlighted by a title in Rio, has seen her gatecrash the Top 50. Sharapova, meanwhile, has yet to hit her brilliant best this campaign, and suffered a shock defeat to qualifier Camila Giorgi a few weeks ago in Indian Wells.

[12] Ana Ivanovic (SRB #13) vs. Lauren Davis (USA #55)
first meeting
A stomach bug may have brought Lauren Davis' Indian Wells campaign to a rather abrupt conclusion, but not before she had time to announce herself at tennis' top table with a win over a certain Victoria Azarenka.

This run to the fourth round followed a promising start to the year and pushed the American to a career-high ranking of No.55. She will get the chance to prove her showing in the desert was no flash in the pan when she takes on former World No.1 Ana Ivanovic. There have been glimpses - most notably at the Australian Open - of Ivanovic's best tennis this year, and she will need to hit her spots if she is to break down Davis' impressive defense.

Also on court...
Petra Kvitova takes on Paula Ormaechea in the third match on Grandstand, while out on Court 2 recent Indian Wells champion Flavia Pennetta is in action against Olga Govortsova.

Find the listings for Thursday's play on the WTA TV developed by Xerox.