Fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska has not been in vintage form in 2017. The 2012 Miami Open champion has only claimed back-to-back wins in one event in Sydney at the start of the year when she lost to Johanna Konta in the final. Radwanska's win-loss record is a disappointing 8-6 coming into this event. The former world number two lost to Caroline Wozniacki in the first round in Doha and third round losses to Cici Bellis and Peng Shuai in Dubai and Indian Wells respectively.
Radwanska, the 2012 Wimbledon finalist begun 2017 at world number three and has slumped to eight in the world. Luckily, the 2012 champion has enough points to stay inside the top ten at the conclusion of this tournament but needs to get some wins under her belt to boost her confidence heading into the clay court season, her weakest surface.
On the other side of the net to Radwanska in this third round encounter at the Crandon Park Tennis Center will be her Melbourne conqueror Mirjana Lucic-Baroni. The 26th-seeded Croat won over the crowd at the Australian Open with her fairytale run and inspiring story. Lucic-Baroni's unexpected run to the semifinals of the Australian Open propelled her inside of the top 32, and the hard-hitting Croat has the tools to upset Radwanska again.
Radwanska's route to the third round
The fifth seed received a bye in the first round as one of the top 32 seeds in Miami. Radwanska began her quest for a second title at the second Premier Mandatory event of the year against China's Qiang Wang. A 5-2 lead was opened up by the Pole but she was unable to close out the opening set easily, however, credit has to be given to Qiang for taking the opening set to a tiebreak. The eighth-ranked player in the world eventually bossed the tiebreak and restored order in the second set, securing a straight sets win, 7-6 (3), 6-1.
Furthermore, the fifth seed indicated in her pre-match tournament that you have to swats away losses and moves onto the next tournament. "I think every tournament is (a) different story. You just have to start from the beginning and doesn't matter what happened last week or two months ago. You just go to court and try and play your best."
Lucic-Baroni's route to the third round
The 35-year-old also received a bye in the first round. She opened up her campaign in Miami against 2009 US Open quarterfinalist Kateryna Bondarenko. The Australian Open semifinalist needed three sets to defeat the Ukranian, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (2) booking her place in the third round of the Miami Open against Radwanska.
Radwanska and Lucic-Baroni have met on three occasions, and the fifth seed has a 2-1 lead against the Croat. However, the 2012 champion has never defeated the 26th seed in a completed best out of three matches. Radwanska took the opening set in both encounters in Doha in 2014 and Eastbourne last year before the Croat was forced to retire with an injury. Furthermore, in their very first completed match in the second round of the Australian Open, Lucic-Baroni outclassed the Pole, 6-3, 6-2 en route to reaching the semifinals before losing to eventual champion Serena Williams.
The fifth seed will want to part way with her struggles on tour this year as the 27-year-old needs to reach the latter stages of tournaments again, in order to regain her confidence. The former world number two has been tipped to win a Grand Slam singles title in her career, and as every year goes by her chances dwindle. However, Radwanska is more than capable of winning a Grand Slam singles title sometime this year, or within the new few years, if she is motivated, healthy and can string a few back-to-back wins together.
The 26th seed possesses the power, she can get a few aces on her serve and her forehand is a deadly weapon when it is firing. Lucic-Baroni needs to stay calm and composed and bring the game that she brought out to the court against Radwanska in Melbourne. However, she doesn't want to live in the past. "Melbourne was exciting. It happened but it already feels like it happened a long time ago. I definitely enjoyed it, but I don't want to be stuck thinking about that. Look where we are, we're in Miami, another big tournament. My feet are on the ground, and I'm fighting for every match."
The 2012 champion will need to bring her crafty game to the court by throwing in some drop shots, and doesn't want to get involved in a baseline rally with Lucic-Baroni as the Croat could overpower her.
This will be the third match scheduled on Court 1 and the winner of this match will face 17th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Bethanie Mattek-Sands for a place in the quarterfinals. This section of the draw has opened up although a potential meeting with second seed Karolina Pliskova could be on the cards in the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Lucic-Baroni in straight sets