The most high-profile WTA match of the day at the Miami Open sees first seed and defending champion Serena Williams take on 15th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in an interesting clash. The winner of this match faces 12th seed Elina Svitolina or 30th seed Ekaterina Makarova in the quarterfinal.
So Far In Miami
As seeds, both received a bye in the first round, though neither has had an easy match on their way to the fourth round.
Williams has certainly struggled more than many expected. Her second round match was a very tough match, eventually edging fellow American Christina McHale 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, and had to work hard to see off Zarina Diyas 7-5, 6-3 in the third round, a match much closer than the previous meetings between the two. The most important thing for Williams is that she is through, though may need to improve slightly.
Kuznetsova has had it even tougher, being pushed to three sets in both her clashes. Her second round match was perhaps more difficult than it should have been, as she eventually edged Carina Witthoft 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in a tricky clash. Her third round clash was, as expected, even more challenging, though the Russian edged past the in-form Caroline Garcia 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 in a thrilling clash. Kuznetsova probably will need to improve for this clash, but will be ready for a tough battle.
This could be the biggest test of the tournament so far for Williams and she'll certainly be looking to put in a strong performance. She'll need to serve well against Kuznetsova and should look to try and finish points off as quickly as possible, as the Russian is a good mover and will be able to defend well and keep herself in points. The American has also suffered some nervy moments, failing to serve out the first set at one stage to both McHale and Diyas and failing to serve out that match against McHale in the second set. She probably can't afford to do that today.
Serving could be key to Kuznetsova's chances. She can be a very good server, though is often erratic and must have a good serving day against one of the best returners on tour. The Russian should also look to cut down her number of errors against such as clinical opponent and, similarily to Williams, must try to take as many opportunities as possible, as she may not get too many chances. Kuznetsova should also look to utilise her strong movement, which could potentially give her an advantage.
Head To Head
Williams comfortably leads the head to head 8-2 and won their last meeting fairly comfortably, easing past Kuznetsova 6-2, 6-3 at this very tournament last year. However several of their previous meetings have been tight and very few have been easy wins for the victor.
Williams is the favourite for this clash and whilst Kuznetsova is capable of beating the American, she will need to play better than she has so far. The American should win this and it could be relatively straightforward, though it wouldn't be a supririse if Kuznetsova does push Williams.
Prediction: Serena Williams in two sets