Another week, another chance for Angelique Kerber to return to the form that saw her rocket to the top of the rankings in 2016. The German has struggled mightily in 2016, dropping all six of her matches against Top 35 opponents while failing to reach a final. Will Kerber find her missing mojo in Miami? Every week is a new chance to shine, she says. "I'm not looking back on the tournaments. You know, it's a completely new year, new tournament, and every tournament starts from zero," Kerber said after falling to Elena Vesnina in straight sets at Indian Wells. "For me, I think I got used to the pressure and everything. So I start every tournament from zero. I am going out there to play my matches, trying to win it."
Kerber, a semifinalist here in Miami last year, will begin her week with a first-time matchup against China's Duan Ying-Ying. The 27-year-old notched an impressive win over Germany's Laura Siegemund on Wednesday and will be gunning for glory in her first ever match against a Top 2 opponent.
Pick: Kerber in three
Like Kerber, Simona Halep has had a challenging year in 2017. She has gone 3-3 and had to miss five weeks due to a knee injury. At Indian Wells, Halep shook off some rust in a second-round win over Donna Vekic but she was defeated easily by Kristina Mladenovic in the third round. In Miami, Halep will look to continue to build some positive momentum, but it won't be easy against Japan's Naomi Osaka. The 19-year-old pushed Halep to the brink at Roland Garros last year and will be bidding for her biggest career win against Halep. Though she is 0-5 against the Top 10 for her career, Osaka has lost three of those matches in deciding sets, and two of them in deciding set tiebreakers. Will Osaka get over the hump against Halep today, or will the Romanian hit the ground running in Miami?
Pick: Halep in two
Madison Keys made a successful return to the tour at Indian Wells after missing the first two months of the season while rehabbing her surgically repaired left wrist. Now she wants to take it a step further. "I feel like I've gotten some of the rust out," Keys told reporters on Wednesday. "I also think the expectation that I have from myself is now a little bit higher. So I'm definitely trying to manage the excitement levels and also just what I'm expecting from myself."
Keys will battle a talented 24-year-old from Switzerland who has not found her best tennis yet this season. After her most successful season on tour, Viktorija Golubic has struggled to win in 2017, but she did pick up her second win of the season on Wednesday, defeating Tsvetana Pironkova in three sets.
Pick: Keys in two
Venus Williams has more Top 20 wins at the Miami Open (11) than most players have matches and the 36-year-old is eager to tack on a few more wins in 2017. The 2001 Miami Open champion will open accounts with a second-round matchup with Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia. The 20-year-old Brazilian Wild Card got her first tour-level win since 2015 when Lesia Tsurenko retired early in the first set of their first-round match. She'll hope to play the match of her life against Williams on Friday while Williams will look to stretch her winning streak against players outside of the Top 100 to six, and notch her 44th career Miami Open win.
Pick: Williams in three
Around the Grounds:
No.7-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova upset Serena Williams en route to a runner-up finish at Miami last year. She'll open accounts with a second-round tussle with Luxembourg's Mandy Minella. No.14-seeded Samantha Stosur, a two-time quarterfinalist at Miami, will face 20-year-old Ashleigh Barty in an all-Aussie Derby. It will be the first meeting between the two compatriots. No.10-seeded Johanna Konta, a quarterfinalist last year, will square off with qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich, while No.31-seeded Daria Kasatkina will tangle with American Shelby Rogers for the right to face the Kerber-Ying-Ying winner.