MIAMI, FL, USA - Day 2 of the Miami Open gets underway on Wednesday with an order of play that features a former World No.1, a number of Americans seeking a breakthrough performance and one of the hottest WTA Rising Stars.
With 20 main draw matches scheduled, fans will be treated to some compelling matches on Stadium court and around the grounds. Here is a look at what Wednesday offers:
A two-time champion at Miami i (2009, 2011), Victoria Azarenka seeks that breakthrough performance to elevate her ranking and return to a level she has become acclimated to throughout her career. She returns to Miami for the first time in three years after missing 2013 due to a right ankle injury and 2014 recovering from a left foot injury, which sidelined her for most of last season. Azarenka's 2015 season has included notable wins over Angelique Kerber, Caroline Wozniacki (twice) and Venus Williams. A tough draw in Indian Wells pitted Azarenka against Maria Sharapova in the third round.
After her loss to Sharapova at Indian Wells, Azarenka explained, "It feels good to be able to just go on the court and not think about anything else, to just play and compete. For me, that brings a lot of joy, walking on the court."
Monica Puig will be bringing #PicaPower to Stadium court in Miami. Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Miami is home base for Puig, who opens her campaign against American qualifier Irina Falconi. This will be their first meeting in a tour-level main draw, although Falconi defeated Puig in three sets five years ago in qualifying at an ITF event in Las Vegas. Needless to say, much has changed since then. Puig ended 2014 on a high note by winning the WTA Rising Stars Invitational in Singapore and looks to build on that in 2015.
The winner will advance to face No.5 seed Ana Ivanovic.
American Sloane Stephens recently celebrated her 22nd birthday and will conclude the night session at Miami against Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer. Both players reached a Grand Slam semifinal as a teenager - Wickmayer at the 2009 US Open and Stephens at the 2013 Australian Open. A three-time WTA title winner, Wickmayer has won only one match since reaching the round of 16 at the Australian Open in January. Stephens, on the other hand, looks to build on her effort at Indian Wells which was stopped by Serena Williams in the round of 16 in a three set battle.
After Stephens' loss to Williams, the World No.1 stated, "She's doing really well. I know she had some tough results earlier. It's good to see her doing really well again."
WTA Rising Star Belinda Bencic defeated Caroline Wozniacki at Indian Wells for her third Top 10 win in the last six months. Bencic, the second-highest-ranked player to be unseeded his week, faces a tough task in her opening round as she goes up against Daniela Hantuchova. Earlier this year, Hantuchova captured her seventh career WTA title at Pattaya City. In their only previous meeting, Hantuchova defeated Bencic at Birmingham last year in straight sets.
From 2004 to 2009, Nicole Vaidisova was one of the brightest young stars in women's tennis, winning six WTA titles - including three in three weeks at one point - and reaching the quarterfinals or better at Grand Slams five times, including semifinal runs at the 2006 French Open (falling to Svetlana Kuznetsova) and the 2007 Australian Open (falling to Serena Williams). She broke into the world's Top 10 as a 17-year-old in 2006, eventually making it as high as No.7 in the world the next year. Vaidisova stopped playing in March 2010 but returned to the game in September 2014. Earlier this year, playing in her first WTA event since 2010, Vaidisova qualified for the main draw at Monterrey, losing her first round match to former World No.1 Ana Ivanovic. Vaidisova will seek her first WTA main draw win since 2010 Memphis when she plays qualifier Timea Babos on Wednesday. The winner will advance to face Road To Singapore leaderboard No.1 Simona Halep.
Also Worth Noting Around The Grounds
On Court 8, qualifier Marina Erakovic will take on wildcard Daria Gavrilova. The winner will play five-time Miami finalist Maria Sharapova in the next round... On Court 2, Britain's Heather Watson will play qualifier Evgeniya Rodina. Watson notched her first career Top 10 win en route to a round of 16 effort at Indian Wells.