Friday at the Itau Miami Open was hot, rain-interrupted, and loaded with tennis, as the women’s seeds all finally got their tournaments underway, and doubles matches were also on the schedule.
The day started off with a rare trip up into the upper reaches of the Stadium to see the first set of Simona Halep’s three set win over Nicole Vaidisova. Nothing particularly noteworthy to mention here. Both players had their moments, with some nice hitting, Halep cleaner and moving better, Nicole painting a few more lines, and Halep getting a decisive break late in the set, holding on to close it out 6-4. After a brief rain delay, I took in the last half of the second set of the match between American Ci Ci Bellis and Kazakh Zarina Diyas, which Bellis won, 6-2 6-1. In what I saw, Bellis was impressive, showing a grit and intensity that reminded me a little of a young Tracy Austin or Chrissie Evert. Whether she’s got the weapons to compete for slam titles or not is another matter, but she almost certainly has top five potential, given her court savvy, ability to work points, defend until she can take the initiative and flatten out a forehand for a winner. Besides the Austin/Evert comparison, she’s got a little Mary Joe Fernandez in her as well, it seems to me, and this combination of smarts and mental toughness should serve her well.
Garbiñe Muguruza overwhelmed Sesil Karatancheva in straight sets, her power simply too much for Karatancheva 6-1 6-3. Garbiñe always seems to play well in Miami, and in her best year yet on Tour, she seems to be on her way to fulfilling her vast potential. Garbiñe and Sesil played on court 8, as did Sabine Lisicki and Julia Goerges. By the time Sabine’s epic, wacky, drama-filled 7-6, 6-7 6-4 win over Julia was over (a match that featured brutal wind conditions and three visits by the trainer after Sabine had built a 4-1 lead in the third set), nearly six hours had elapsed since Simona and Nicole had tipped things off at 11 AM, and the skies were starting to darken rather quickly as an approaching weather system brought an early end to the day’s matches.
With much of today’s tennis still remaining to be played on Saturday, tomorrow will be a very busy day at Crandon Park.