Opportunity abounds in the top half of the Miami Open draw as third-round actions gets underway Saturday. Only three seeds remain, Ons Jabeur is the only Top 10 player left and a new Miami finalist is guaranteed. Who will take advantage?

Karolina Muchova (CZE) vs. Naomi Osaka (JPN)

Amid the exodus of seeds, it's worth remembering that ranking is just a number, not a scientific mark of quality. Example: Muchova and Osaka, currently at No.74 and No.77 respectively - artificially low positions that bely their true level.

As recently as May, Osaka was at No.2 and Muchova at No.19. An abdominal injury derailed Muchova's season and eventually sidelined her for seven months. Osaka underwent high-profile mental health struggles, and this is just her seventh tournament since Roland Garros last year.

Miami Open: Order of PlayDraw | 411

Both have demonstrated this week that they are capable of producing their best tennis regardless of their ranking. Osaka was phenomenal in blitzing No.13 seed Angelique Kerber in exactly an hour; Muchova's variety and courtcraft showed little sign of rust in her defeats of Tereza Martincova and No.18 seed Leylah Fernandez.

Last year, this would have been a match to circle between seeds. Twelve months on, recency bias shouldn't diminish its quality.

Head-to-head: 1-1. Osaka won their only hard-court meeting at Cincinnati 2020, but Muchova took their most recent encounter at Madrid 2021. Both went to three sets.

Kaia Kanepi (EST) vs. [8] Ons Jabeur (TUN)

Jabeur is the only Top 10 player left in the top half of the draw. Unfortunately for her, she has run into an opponent who has made a career of ambushing Top 10 players. Kanepi, whose own career-high is No.15, owns 14 victories over Top 10 opposition, including three since the start of 2021. 

On the other hand, Jabeur can draw confidence from the fact that she is yet to drop a set to Kanepi in two previous meetings, both also on U.S. hard courts. 

At the age of 36, Kanepi is still hitting personal milestones in her career. In January, the Estonian completed a full set of Grand Slam quarterfinal showings at the Australian Open. An upset would put her into the last 16 in Miami for the first time since 2008.

Head-to-head: Jabeur leads 2-0.

[9] Danielle Collins (USA) vs. Vera Zvonareva

A clash between the only players left in the top half who have previously reached the semifinals in Miami. Collins made the last four on her tournament debut in 2018, upsetting Venus Williams en route; former World No.2 Zvonareva has reached that stage twice, in 2008 and 2011.

Both players have earned much-needed wins this week. A viral illness halted Collins over the past month, but she came from a break down in the third set against Anna Bondar to post her first victory since reaching the Australian Open final. Zvonareva snapped a seven-match losing streak to come through qualifying, then scored her first Top 30 win since last May with an upset of No.19 seed Tamara Zidansek.

Head-to-head: Collins leads 2-0, winning at Indian Wells 2018 and Madrid 2019, both in straight sets.

Miami: Jabeur holds off Linette to reach third round

Best of the rest

Belinda Bencic is the only seeded player left in the top quarter of the draw at No.22. The Swiss, who revealed last month that she was still suffering from the after-effects of contracting Covid-19 in the off-season, snapped a three-match losing streak to defeat Marta Kostyuk in the second round.

She faces Heather Watson, who has reached the last 32 the hard way - needing 3 hours and 26 minutes to triumph over Arantxa Rus in the first round, and then 2 hours and 38 minutes to upset No.15 seed Elina Svitolina in the second. Watson won their only previous meeting 7-5, 6-4 in the first round of Indian Wells 2014.

Former World No.20 Daria Saville will bid to become the second wildcard in as many years to reach the Miami fourth round following No.338-ranked Ana Konjuh in 2021. Saville has leapt from No.610 to No.249 in the past month after making the Guadalajara quarterfinals and Indian Wells fourth round.

The Australian's return from Achilles surgery is shaping up to be one of the comebacks of the year. She will face Katerina Siniakova, whom she has defeated twice in two previous meetings.

Interview: A new backhand, a steadier outlook and a fresh outlook for Daria Saville

This time last year, Lucia Bronzetti was ranked No.344 and competing in an ITF W15 event in Le Havre, which she won. The 23-year-old Italian is guaranteed to make her Top 100 debut after Miami, a well-earned reward for a low-key but impressive rise over the past year. Bronzetti reached the quarterfinals in the first three WTA main draws of her career last year, in Lausanne, Palermo and Portoroz. Competing as a lucky loser, she's now made the third round of her first ever WTA 1000 tournament. Bronzetti will take on qualifier Anna Kalinskaya, who scored her second career Top 10 victory over No.6 seed Karolina Pliskova in the second round.

- Insights from
katerina siniakova
More Head to Head
0% Win 0
- Matches Played
100% Win 4
daria saville