One of the most interesting matches of the day at the Miami Open will see 11th seed, and Australian Open finalist, Venus Willliams take on seventh seed Svetlana Kuznetsova, the runner-up in Miami last year, for a place in the last eight.
Scheduled to the be the final match of the day, taking place on Stadium at any time after 21:00 local time, this will be the tenth meeting between the two, with the Russian winning their last meeting, in Wuhan last year, comfortably; that was their first meeting in almost seven years.
The winner will face top seed Angelique Kerber or qualifier Risa Ozaki in the quarterfinals.
So far in Miami
Neither woman has been particularly tested in Miami, with both putting in some solid performances to make this stage of the tournament.
Williams, a three-time champion in Miami, received a bye in the first round and started against wildcard Beatriz Haddad Maia, seeing off the Brazilian 6-4, 6-3. The American then survived an early wobble to storm past qualifier Patricia Maria Tig for the loss of just three games; she will be confident coming into this match, which will be her biggest test so far.
Kuznetsova will also be confident heading into this clash. Following her run to the final in Indian Wells, the Russian, who also received a bye in the opening round, dropping just four games to Mandy Minella, before surviving an early wobble to ease past Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-2 to reach the round of 16.
It is arguably the American who is the more powerful of the two, and she must look to try and break down Kuznetsova’s potentially fragile serving. However, Williams can be error prone and must look to keep the ball in play against such a clever opponent, especially one like the Russian who has a lot of tricks up her sleeve. Furthermore, as she is not as good at moving around the court as Kuznetsova, Williams must look to try and dictate play as much as possible, not allowing the Russian to move the ball about, and be patient in trying to break down Kuznetsova’s defence, which has been extremely effective in the past 15 months.
She may be slightly less powerful than Williams, though Kuznetsova is a much better mover than the American and should look to push the 11th seed around the court and open up space for herself. Whilst she herself will need to serve well, she will likely get many opportunities to dictate play from the American’s second serve; she must take advantage of this as much as possible, as Williams will be feeling more confident serving after her promising start to the year.
Both veterans of the WTA tour, Williams and Kuznetsova have been in resurgent form over the past couple of seasons and both will be ready for this encounter. Williams certainly has the weapons to win this encounter, though it seems that Kuznetsova is in slightly better form and should edge this.
Prediction: Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets