Miami | Swiatek and Badosa advance as Azarenka walks away

Iga Swiatek and Paula Badosa advanced to the round of 16 at the Miami Open presented by Itaú on Sunday, while Victoria Azarenka left the court mid-game, conceding 16-year-old wildcard Linda Fruhvirtova. the Czech Republic.

I don’t know what will happen after the tournament, and the adrenaline will drop, and I have more time to stress out a bit more, but for now I feel good. It’s not like it bothered me, it was more motivating. So that’s great. Iga Swiatek

Jessica Pegula, Coco Gauff and Petra Kvitova were also among the winners to progress to the top half of the draw.

Swiatek takes advantage of the heady highs to become the new world No. 1 next week, staying on course for a Sunshine Double with an impressive victory over American Madison Brengle, 6-0 6-3, in just over an hour. .

With Ash Barty’s sudden retirement from tennis effective immediately, the 20-year-old Polish jumped to No. 1 after her 2nd round victory in Florida and says she feels “in a good place”.

Swiatek raced through the first set in 25 minutes before Brengle finally broke the run in the second game of the second set, shooting 12 winners against 1 American in the opener and finishing the match with 25 winners at 4.

The American then looked to level the game as she was broken in game five, but the advantage was snuffed out in the next game before Swiatek broke again to go 13-0 after winning at the Indian Wells Open last week.

Broken just once in the game, the No. 2 seed dominated on his return, generating a total of 10 break points and breaking in 5 of 7 return games.

“I feel like I’m in a good place with my tennis and I’m focusing on that,” Swiatek said when asked about the No. 1 ranking. “I know the ranking can be pressure, but on the other hand, when I was going up and getting into Top 10 and Top 5, I felt the same feeling and right now I don’t want to repeat that.

“So I just focus on my game.

“I don’t know what will happen after the tournament, and the adrenaline will go down, and I have more time to stress a bit more but, for now, I feel good. It’s not as if it bothered me, it was more motivating. So that’s great.

Swiatek will face Gauff for the second time in his career and the first time on a hard court.

Their only previous meeting was in Rome last spring when Swiatek won 7-6 6-3 in the semi-finals to win their first WTA 1000 title.

Coco Gauff passed Zhang Shuai to set up a meeting with Iga Swiatek in the round of 16 in Miami

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Gauff, the 18-year-old 14th seed, beat China’s Zhang Shuai 7-6(1) 7-5.

Gauff and Zhang shared 4 breaks of serve in the first set before the American teenager dominated the tiebreak, while the second was also a 5-break back and forth challenge, which Gauff edged 3-2.

It was an escape from the clutches of the cunning Chinese, who couldn’t shut down the 18-year-old despite serving for the first set with set points and leading with a break in the second at 4-2.

The American fired back both times as Zhang failed to find the pitch.

“Shuai, she’s an amazing singles and doubles player,” Gauff said on the court after the match, alluding to the pair having played doubles three times but never before in singles. “I have a lot of respect for her.

“Today was tough. I wasn’t playing my best at times, but I was just trying to hold on and get the ball on the court.

Gauff also recalled her last encounter with Swiatek, saying, “I played her in Rome last year in the semi-finals and she won. She won that game. I hope this time it’s a different result for me.

“Honestly, I don’t have any pressure. She’s the number 1 player in the world. She’s on a roll right now…hopefully I’ll just go in there and play for free.

Petra Kvitova beat Lauren Davis to make the 4th round of Miami for the 5th time in her career

© Mark Brown/Getty Images

The winner of the Swiatek-Gauff clash will face either Kvitova or Kudermetova in the quarter-finals following the two-time Grand Slam champion’s loss to Lauren Davis 7-5 6-1, while Kudermetova was the 6-1 7-5 winner. on Shelby Rogers, the two American losers of the day.

Kvitova improved to 2-0 against Davis, picking up her second straight victory over the world No. 94.

With the victory in 1 hour and 22 minutes, former world No. 2 Kvitova won consecutive matches for only the second time this season.

Kvitova dropped her serve 3 times in the first set, but she earned a break in the final game of the opener and then broke through the second set to take the win.

The Czech will face Kudermetova, the No. 21 seed, who hit a career milestone by reaching her first WTA 1000 quarter-final in Indian Wells, and has now backed that up impressively in Miami.

Meanwhile, Spain’s 5th seed Badosa won a tactical battle against Kazakh Yulia Putintseva in the third round, continuing her solid form on American hard courts, 6-3 6-2.

Fresh off a run to the Indian Wells semi-finals, Badosa made the 3rd round of Miami on her WTA main draw debut in 2015, and 7 years later the Spaniard sealed her debut in the 4th round in an hour and 21 minutes, extending his 2022 overall record to 15-5, securing his Top 3 debut next Monday.

“I played against her a few months ago so I knew it was a very physical and tactical game,” she said. “I’ve studied her a bit to find out where she’s going to throw the ball.”

Despite the score, it was a close match but Badosa’s tenacity prevailed, rallying 4 games to multiple ties and winning each one.

She broke Putintseva for 4-3 in the first set and overturned an early break deficit in the second, tightening her grip to hold 5-2 and clinch the win.

“I’m really happy with the performance,” Badosa said before stopping and adding, “Why do I speak English? I think there are a lot more Spaniards than English here .

A few words in Spanish later, the multicultural crowd was screaming with joy.

“Muchas gracias,” she added, now eyeing a 4th round encounter with Fruhvirtova, the 16-year-old Czech prodigy.

Linda Fruhvirtova was on course for victory when Victoria Azarenka left the field in Miami

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Fruhvirtova defeated three-time Miami Open champion and 12th seed Victoria Azarenka, leading 6-2, 3-0 when Azarenka left the court.

“It’s what I’ve always dreamed of,” said Fruhvirtova, who entered Miami ranked 279 and will likely climb about 100 places or more if she can keep winning.

It was not a dream for Azarenka, who left the game very abruptly and later, in a statement released 3 hours later during the tournament, apologized.

“I shouldn’t have gone on the court today,” she said. “The past few weeks have been extremely stressful in my personal life.

“The last game was so demanding of me, but I wanted to play in front of a great crowd because they got me through my first game.

“I wanted to go and try but it was a mistake. I hope to take a break and be able to come back.

The 32-year-old was in tears on the court and at one point shouted ‘Why am I here?’ to his coaching box during the game.

After 45 minutes of play, she suddenly shook hands with her opponent and the referee and left the field, although the referee told her to wait for the coach.

It was Azarenka’s 7th retirement or withdrawal mid-tournament in the past 14 months.

She has previously spoken of a long-term custody battle over her son, as Belarusian and Russian athletes currently compete as neutrals on the WTA and ATP Tours following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I always look forward to the challenge and the pressure of competition, but today was too much. I must and will learn from this,” Azarenka added.

Nothing should overshadow the achievement of Fruhvirtova, the first under-17 player to reach the fourth round of this tournament since Maria Sharapova and Tatiana Golovin did so at 16 in 2004.

“I’m really excited, happy. I can’t quite describe it or find the right words,” said Fruhvirtova, who dominated junior tennis with her 14-year-old sister Brenda.

“I try to absorb it all. I just wanted to play my game and not think it was Victoria Azarenka I was playing on the other side of the pitch.”

Jessica Pegula passed Elena Rybakina and will face Anhelina Kalinina in the 4th round

© Mark Brown/Getty Images

Fruhvirtova has won 3 ITF pro titles but never faced a Top 20 opponent before her match against the 12th seed, as the teenager had already picked up a big upset this week, beating Elise Mertens, 24th ranked, in the previous round.

“Of course, I didn’t want it to end like this, because Vika is one of the players I grew up watching, and she’s definitely one to look up to,” Fruhvirtova said on the pitch, after the match. “I just want her to feel better as soon as possible.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played in such a big stadium, and those are memories I will remember forever.”

Fruhvirtova found a formidable passing winner to break Azarenka for an early 2-0 lead and although Azarenka used some superb returns to regain serve at 3-2, she was again broken to go down 2-4, allowing the youngster to go through the remainder of the first set and advance into the second before Azarenka ended the affair.

The Czech teenager becomes the youngest to reach the last 16 in Miami since 2004.

American Jessica Pegula also made the 4th round, with the No. 16 seed beating Kazakstan’s No. 17 Elena Rybakina 6-3 6-4.

The first-ever meeting between the pair had the potential to be a hotly contested one, but Pegula led for the entire 81 minutes, with the world No. 21 taking a 4-0 lead in the opener and breaking Rybakina in the second. first game of the second.

The early lead lasted the duration of the match, as she never faced a break point in the second set.

Pegula advances to meet Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina, who came back to defeat Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia, 2-6 6-4 6-2, after two and a half hours.

The world No.51 improved her record to 3-0 against No.62 Haddad Maia, although it was the first meeting between the two 25-year-olds since two ITF Challenger encounters in 2014.

Despite being a set and a break behind, Kalinina maintained her unbeaten record against the Brazilian, converting 5 of her 15 break points and moving closer to victory.

Monday has a full day of 4th round action with Swiatek and Gauff, with Naomi Osaka returning to face Alison Riske and Badosa returning to fight Fruhvirtova.

With Azarenka out, there will be two new Miami finalists and a new Miami champion on Saturday.