MIAMI, FL, USA - Ashleigh Barty will begin her Miami Open title defense with a rematch of last year's final; with 2018 partner CoCo Vandewege out due to an ankle injury, the Aussie will partner former World No.1 Victoria Azarenka against top seeds Katerina Siniakova and Barbora Krejcikova.
A two-time Grand Slam champion in singles, Azarenka reached three major finals in doubles early in her career, winning two Premier Mandatory titles at the 2009 BNP Paribas Open and the 2011 Mutua Madrid Open (with Vera Zvonareva and Maria Kirilenko, respectively). She and Barty played at the Australian Open, where they reached the second round, and won the Abierto Mexicano Telcel title with Zheng Saisai back in February.
Krejcikova and Siniakova finished 2018 as the WTA Year-End World Co-No.1s after winning two major titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and finishing runner-up at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global; the top seeds are fresh off another runner-up finish at the BNP Paribas Open, where they fell to Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.
Speaking of Mertens and Sabalenka, the on-fire duo are back together in Miami, where they open against another intriguing pair in Danielle Collins and Jelena Ostapenko; the winner will play No.3 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei and Barbora Strycova.
Winners at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Hsieh and Strycova are are the projected semifinal opponents for Krejcikova and Siniakova. The 2018 BNP Paribas Open champions reunited at the start of the Middle East Swing and have won two titles in three total appearances together.
The bottom half of the draw features another blockbuster first round between No.2 seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, and Simona Halep and Julia Goerges. Halep last played doubles at the Coupe Rogers in Montréal, and also played doubles at the Miami Open in 2018 - both times with countrywoman Irina-Camelia Begu. Halep and Goerges met in the singles quarterfinals of the Qatar Total Open, where the Romanian emerged victorious in two tie-breaks.
Babos and Mladenovic also lost to Mertens and Sabalenka in Indian Wells, and backed up their title run at the 2018 Australian Open with another trip to the final against eventual champions Samantha Stosur and Zhang Shuai.
Qatar Total Open champions Latisha Chan and Chan Hao-Ching are also in the bottom half of the draw. The Chan sisters lost just one match in the Middle East after finishing runner-up to Hsieh and Strycova in Dubai, and enjoyed another strong run in Indian Wells, where they made the semifinals.