We’re down to the final eight at the Miami Open. 

Top Half

[1] Ashleigh Barty vs. [7] Aryna Sabalenka
Anastasija Sevastova vs. [5] Elina Svitolina

Bottom Half

[8] Bianca Andreescu vs. Sara Sorribes Tormo
[23] Maria Sakkari vs. [2] Naomi Osaka

Australia’s Ashleigh Barty leads the way. On Monday, the top-ranked player took down Victoria Azarenka in three sets. 

Is she the one to beat? Who’s most primed for an upset?

We asked, now we’ll give you our best guess. WTA Web Editors Jason Juzwiak and Alex Macpherson and Senior Writer Courtney Nguyen preview the Miami Open quarterfinals. 

Photo by Getty Images

Underdog most likely to pull through? 

Alex Macpherson: Anastasija Sevastova. The Latvian may have slumped out of the Top 50 from a career high of World No.11 at the end of 2018, winning just two matches last year, but the quality of her best tennis shouldn't be forgotten. Sevastova's finesse has carved up Naomi Osaka, Garbiñe Muguruza and Serena Williams - to name just a few - and her dour demeanour belies what a delight her game can be to watch. There were signs before Miami that Sevastova was turning things around, including an Adelaide quarterfinal run. Though she got a big break this week when No.3 seed Simona Halep withdrew ahead of their third-round match, she was sharp in her defeats of both No.31 seed Coco Gauff and the resurgent Ana Konjuh. Moreover, she's beaten quarterfinal opponent Elina Svitolina before, 6-3, 1-6, 6-0 at the 2018 US Open - why not again?

Jason Juzwiak: Aryna Sabalenka. It’s hard to call someone as powerful and dynamic as Sabalenka an “underdog,” but when she’s pitted against the current World No.1 Ashleigh Barty, that’s the slot she occupies. Still, even though this result is difficult to predict (see below), out of the four lower-seeded players in the quarterfinal matches, Sabalenka is the one that can most likely take full control of a match, regardless of who she’s facing. Three times in her career, Sabalenka has gone on streaks where she’s won three or more matches in a row against Top 10 players. She has not met anyone in that echelon since September, so one of those runs could easily start right here.

Courtney Nguyen: Sara Sorribes Tormo. The Spaniard is playing the best tennis of her life this month, having won Guadalajara and made the semifinals in Monterrey. In Miami, she saved match points in the first round before defeating three quality Top 30 players in Jennifer Brady, Elena Rybakina and Ons Jabeur to advance to her first WTA 1000 quarterfinal. Hey quarterfinal opponent, Bianca Andreescu, has been outstanding in her tough back-to-back wins over Amanda Anisimova and Garbiñe Muguruza, and recovery will be key for her. Sorribes Tormo will be ready to make this physical. There’s a reason she might just be the toughest out in tennis.

2021 Miami Highlights: Sorribes Tormo's passing shots defeat Rybakina

Matchup with most at stake?

Macpherson: Barty vs. Sabalenka. For Barty, an opportunity to defend both her Miami title and World No.1 ranking. For Sabalenka, a chance to reassert the dominant form which took her on a 15-match winning streak across the end of 2020 and start of 2021. For both, an element of mastering a new challenge. This is Barty's first international venture in more than a year, and delivering a strong performance off home soil will be an important step in rejoining the tour this year. Meanwhile, Sabalenka has excelled indoors in Europe and outdoors in China and the Middle East in recent years but has been more muted on U.S. hardcourts where, coming into this week, she had lost six of her past 12 matches.

Juzwiak: Barty vs. Sabalenka. Both have been heavy title contenders at top-tier events throughout the season and would like to cap off the spring hardcourt swing by staking a claim as one of the handful of the best on this surface. Additionally, Barty is fighting to hold onto her World No.1 ranking, which is under siege from surging Naomi Osaka and is in play this week if she were to lose to Sabalenka.

Nguyen: Barty vs. Sabalenka. A win for Barty and she forces World No.2 Naomi Osaka to win the Miami title to have a chance to unseat her at No.1. A loss means Osaka can overtake her by advancing to the final. Whoever wins will be the favorite against either Svitolina or Sevastova in the semifinals.

Photo by Miami Open/Peter Staples

Matchup too close to call?

Macpherson: Andreescu vs. Sorribes Tormo. The only sure thing about this first-time matchup is that it will go to a deciding set. Andreescu and Sorribes Tormo are two of the tour's leading three-set specialists. Since the start of Andreescu's 2019 Indian Wells title run, 21 of the Canadian's 36 completed matches have gone all the way. She has won 18 of those and has a 5-1 record in third sets in 2021. Meanwhile, Sorribes Tormo has played deciding sets in 10 of her 19 matches this season, including four of 2021's Top 20 longest matches, and has an 8-2 record in them. That's more three-set wins than anyone else on tour this year.

Juzwiak: Barty vs. Sabalenka. The close head-to-head does not provide much of a bellwether in this contrast of styles. Both players came out of the blocks slowly this fortnight, needing to save match point in their opening matches, but have generally found their form over the past two rounds. Sabalenka’s hot streaks can be difficult to stamp out, as evidenced by her 15-match winning streak, which extended into this season, but Barty knows best how to win on these courts. Her 2019 title makes her the only player to date to hoist the trophy at Hard Rock Stadium.

Nguyen: Barty vs. Sabalenka. There’s no clear favorite in this battle of Power vs. Finesse. Sabalenka has the narrow edge in the head-to-head at 3-2, but I think court speed could play a role here. Sabalenka’s three wins came on quicker courts, twice in Wuhan - a tournament dominated by hitters like Sabalenka, Kvitova and Venus Williams - and once in Zhuhai. Barty’s wins have come on more neutral hard courts, like at Melbourne Park. The slower courts in Miami could give Barty the time to weave her web. Then again, when Sabalenka is at her best, court speed doesn’t matter.

Player who would benefit most from a deep run?

Macpherson: Andreescu. The summer of 2019 already showed us that Andreescu doesn't necessarily need match-play to hit top form - having played just one match between March and August that year, she returned to immediately sweep the Toronto and US Open titles. But coming back after a whole year on the sidelines is a greater challenge. The Canadian's return to action in Australia was tentatively promising - a handful of battling wins, and neither of her losses to Hsieh Su-Wei in the Australian Open second round and Marie Bouzkova in the Phillip Island Trophy semifinals could be called bad. This event represents an opportunity to restake her position at the very top of the game.

Juzwiak: Svitolina. The Ukrainian has yet to pass the quarterfinals at an event this season and came into Miami having just lost her opening match in Dubai, a tournament where she has had tremendous success in the past. Breaking that quarterfinal barrier would do wonders for her confidence as she seeks to tighten her grip on her Top 5 ranking. There are already signs that Svitolina is edging closer to her peak level. Her comeback fourth-round win over Petra Kvitova, who she was previously 2-7 against, was Svitolina's first win over Top 10 opposition since the 2019 WTA Finals.

Nguyen: Sakkari. The Greek’s stock was soaring after her first tournament in the season in Abu Dhabi, where she advanced to the semifinals by defeating Anastasia Potapova, Coco Gauff, Garbiñe Muguruza and Sofia Kenin. She was ripping the ball on her forehand and serving big. She hit 11 aces to oust Muguruza. But the World No.25 landed in hard lockdown after landing in Melbourne on a flight that carried passengers who tested positive for Covid, and she’s been searching for her form ever since. A big result in Miami would be a big boost before she heads to her favorite surface, clay.