Elena Vesnina of Russia holds the Russian flag along with her BNP Paribas Open trophy. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Miami Open Women's Preview: Will Vesnina Win 'Sunshine Double?

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- As we segue into the Sunshine State, Indian Wells victors Roger Federer and Elena Vesnina are still basking in their recents glory. Major storylines are already built-in with Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray withdrawing due to respective elbow injuries. Serena Williams, who withdrew from Indian Wells with injury, won't be participating here this year. Defending champion Victoria Azarenka is still on maternity leave, and resurgent Roger Federer has emerged this season as the one to beat.

Here is the women's preview:


[1] Angelique Kerber's Quarter

Despite losing in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open last week to eventual winner Elena Vesnina, Kerber returned to world No. 1 status due to Serena Williams's withdrawal from Indian Wells just after the the release of the draw. The German is not playing her best tennis this season, which will likely affect her confidence in Miami.

She will likely get tested in the third round in the event she faces teenager Daria Kasatkina, who stunned her in Sydney in January. If she passes Kasatkina test, she will potentially meet 2015 Miami Open finalist Carla Suarez Navarro, who usually plays well in Miami.

The bottom quarter includes Indian Wells' finalist Svetlana Kuznetsova, semifinalist Kristina Mladenovic, and quarterfinalist Venus Williams. Kuznetsova is last year's Miami Open finalist, while Williams is a three-time champion (1998, 1999, 2001) and runner-up in 2010. Mladenovic won her maiden WTA title in St. Petersburg last month and has continued to play good tennis. One of these three in-form players will potentially face Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals, and chances are Kutzenova, Williams, or Mladenovic will emerge from this quarter.

[3] Simona Halep's Quarter

Halep hasn't had a great 2017 season due to a knee injury. She was knocked out of Indian Wells in the third round by eventual semifinalist Mladenovic. The third seed will likely face dangerous 19-year-old Naomi Osaka, who can crash the ball like the best of them. If Halep survives this test (big IF), she will potentially meet Sam Stosur in the fourth round.

No. 8 seed Madison Keys and 10th seed Johanna Konta are in the bottom part of this quarter, and are destined to clash in the fourth round if Konta is able to avoid being upset by potential second round foe Alize Cornet, and Keys moves past potential third past foe Irina-Camelia Begu. If Keys and Konta do meet in the fourth round, one of them will likely come through this section.


[4] Dominika Cibulkova's Quarter

There's a strong chance that Cibulkova will play 19-year-old Ana Konjuh in the third round. Both players aren't in great form, so whomever wakes up on the right side of the bed will likely advance to the fourth round, where chances are red-hot Elena Vesnina will be waiting. If the newly-minted Indian Wells winner avoids a let-down, she will squeeze through this section.

In the other half of this quarter, Garbine Muguruza will have her hands full in the form of Christina McHale in the second round and possibly, former Top Ten Belinda Bencic in the third round. Bencic loves the hards courts and if healthy, she can take out anyone. Muguruza should pull through this cluster and possible face Vesnina in the round of eight. If she fights the way she did during her quarterfinal match against Karolina Pliskova in Indian Wells last week (Pliskova triumphed in two tiebreaks), Muguruza will top Vesnina.

[2] Karolina Pliskova's Quarter

Pliskova did not play her best game in the semifinal against Kutzenova last week because the Russian took the racquet out of the Pliskova's hands. If the second seed brings her A game to Miami, she shouldn't have any trouble cruising past the early rounds and setting an appointment with Coco Vandeweghe in the fourth round.

No. 5 seed Radwanska leads the other part of this quarter. She will possible clash with surprise Australian Open semifinalist Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the third round. If (big IF) she does move past this round, she will most likely face either Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or Elina Svitolina. Both these players are in great form this season, so it's not a big stretch to say one of these two will face Pliskova in the fourth round.

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