Ons Jabeur departed relatively early at the BNP Paribas Open, losing to Marketa Vondrousova in the third round. Jabeur wasn’t at 100 percent, but that gave her time to travel to Miami and get in some good practice sets with different players.

“Brain and body feel good,” the World No.5 told reporters Wednesday. “I feel like I’m ready here for Miami. The body is getting there, and I’m really excited.”

Indian Wells Day 3

After suffering a knee injury at the Australian Open, Jabeur underwent minor surgery and missed the Middle East swing. Not everyone on her team thought she was ready for Indian Wells, but she insisted, “I just didn’t want to go behind of the ranking too much.”

When she dropped the first set of her first match against Magdalena Frech, Jabeur was rethinking her decision but rallied to win in three. The straight-sets loss to Vondrousova revealed a few cracks in her game.

“It could have been worse for sure,” Jabeur said. “The tennis is there, I just need to gain back some of the things I was doing before. I also feel my tennis is getting better, just with the technical things that I’ve been working on with my coach.

“I feel like this season is just starting now. This is my January.”

Miami Open: Scores | Order of play | Draws

Her new season begins Friday with a second-round match against qualifier Varvara Gracheva, who scored a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Maryna Zanevska. It’s only her eighth match of the year, one of 16 from the bottom half of the draw, all involving seeded players.

Jabeur defeated Gracheva in their only meeting, last spring in Madrid’s third round, 7-5, 0-6, 6-4.

The primary goal, Jabeur said, is to play her way through the entire season without taking a break. With the physical and emotional demands of professional tennis, this isn’t quite as easy as it sounds.

“We’re trying to do that, to listen to my body and not push too much,” Jabeur said. “I also have a physio with me who can help me with stuff. Everybody plays with an injury. You just need to maintain a certain level to play good tennis and have a full schedule.”

Jabeur estimates that she’s 80-90 percent fit, which is encouraging. She has a game unlike any other, an ample bag of tools that allows her to adjust to any situation. Drop shots are her signature stroke, but she can beat you by going big or small, with all kinds of unlikely shot speeds and trajectories.

The 28-year-old from Tunisia reached the finals at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, losing to Elena Rybakina and Iga Swiatek.

“Elena won Wimbledon last year,” Jabeur said. “Aryna [Sabalenka] struggled a bit last year but she regained her confidence. Iga is Iga. I think they have a very powerful game so that’s why it’s great to see them doing amazing.

“I think it’s great motivation for all of us. I know what great players they are and I think it’s fun to challenge them a bit. I have a completely different game from them so maybe it’s time that I make trouble for them a little bit.”

Other notable matches:

No.2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. Shelby Rogers

With the withdrawal of Swiatek, Sabalenka has a terrific opportunity to close the gap between No.1 and No.2. Swiatek, out with a rib injury, is the defending champion and will drop 1,000 points in the Hologic WTA Tour rankings. Sabalenka is defending only 10 points after falling in her first match here a year ago.

Sabalenka, 24, is coming off an entertaining Indian Wells final, where she fell to Rybakina 7-6(11), 6-4. There were moments when the newly minted Australian Open champion reverted to her uneven form of 2022, when frustration intervened.

Photo by Jimmie48/WTA

“I think this tough loss will motivate me more, because I don’t like to lose in the finals,” Sabalenka said afterward. “I hope that this tough loss will help me in the next matches to stay focused and keep working and keep fighting for another title.”

Sabalenka has beaten Rogers the three times they’ve played, most recently on her way to the title in Melbourne, 6-3, 6-1 in the second round.

No.5 Caroline Garcia vs. Sorana Cirstea

Tennis has a marvelous capacity to surprise. Imagine you are Garcia coming off a tough three-set, fourth-round loss at Indian Wells to Sorana Cirstea. Ten days later, at the Miami Open, the draw presents you with a second-round match against … Sorana Cirstea.

It’s an almost immediate opportunity to dwell on history -- or seize this opportunity to change the narrative. Garcia, already 17-7 this young season, won the two previous matches between them, in 2019 Madrid and 2017 Toronto.

No.7 Maria Sakkari vs. Bianca Andreescu

On Wednesday, Andreescu won the first-round matchup of former US Open champions, prevailing in three sets against Emma Raducanu. Sakkari is coming off a semifinal loss to Sabalenka in Indian Wells. If precedents mean anything, this should be a fantastic match.

The head-to-head is 1-all, but Andreescu won their 2021 semifinal -- right here in Miami -- 7-6(7), 3-6, 7-6(4). Later that year, they met in the fourth round of the US Open. Sakkari won in three sets and two more tiebreaks.