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MIAMI SATURDAY: RADWANSKA AIMS FOR MELBOURNE REVENGE, PLISKOVA & PUTINTSEVA BATTLE

Chris Oddo | Karolina Pliskova faces former junior foe, while Agnieszka Radwanska tries to avenge her Aussie Open loss to Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

Third-round action begins in earnest on Saturday at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Miami. 

Saturday

Third round

[2] Karolina Pliskova (CZE #3) vs. [27] Yulia Putintseva (KAZ #32)
Head-to-head: Tied, 1-1
Key Stat: Pliskova is bidding for her 21st victory of the season. She would take over the WTA lead in that category with a win today.

Karolina Pliskova blasted past American Madison Brengle in the second round doing what she does best. She cracked 27 winners to just six for the American and took control of play early in rallies to cruise to a straight sets victory. She'll look to do more of the same against fiery Yulia Putintseva on Saturday. Pliskova served 12 aces and raced by the 22-year-old Kazakh in straight sets in her first match of the season at the Brisbane International, and Pliskova will aim to continue that trend on Saturday. Putintseva won more than half of her return points against Germany's Carina Witthoeft on Thursday, and broke serve six times in thirteen opportunities, but she'll have her hands full against the WTA's ace leader and will have to make the most of any opportunities she gets to pull the upset.

Pick: Pliskova in two

[4] Dominika Cibulkova (SVK #4) vs. Kirsten Flipkens (BEL #85)
Head-to-head: Cibulkova leads, 4-2
Key Stat: Cibulkova is playing at a career-high ranking of World No.4 this week.

2014 semifinalist Dominika Cibulkova improved to 15-9 at the Miami Open on Thursday with a straight-sets win over Paraguay's Veronica Cepede Royg. On Saturday the No.4 seed will face the crafty stylings of Kirsten Flipkens, a savvy veteran that has made a living off of breaking the rhythm of the tour's best players for years. In six previous meetings with the Belgian Cibulkova has had mixed results. But she won the pair's last two meetings and will come in as the heavy favorite against the World No. 85, who has only won two of 21 lifetime meetings against Top 10 opponents on hardcourts.

Can Flipkens withstand the punishing ground game of Cibulkova and make enough traction with her eclectic blend of slice and dice, or will the indefatigable Cibulkova power past Flipkens and into the round of 16?

Pick: Cibulkova in two

[5] Agnieszka Radwanska (POL #5) vs. [26] Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO #29)
Head-to-head: Radwanska leads, 2-1
Key Stat: Radwanska has won the singles title (2012) and the doubles title (2011) at Miami.

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni shocked Agnieszka Radwanska out of this year's Australian Open and went on to reach a semifinal at a major for the first time since 1999. On Saturday the Croatian will try to summon the magic once again when she takes on the fifth-seeded Pole, who is a former champion and owns an impressive 29 career wins at Miami. As much as the 35-year-old Lucic-Baroni would like to bask in the glory of her colossal performance down under, she knows that Miami is another story, another chance for her to show the world that she can still play.

"Melbourne was exciting, it happened, but it already feels like it happened a long time ago," Lucic-Baroni told WTA Insider after her three-set win over Kateryna Bondarenko on Thursday. "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."

Radwanska will be fighting as well. After starting slowly in 2017, the Pole is eager to turn the page and make something special happen in Miami. "I think every tournament is different story," Radwanska said before the tournament. "You just have to start from the beginning, and doesn't matter what happened last week or two months ago. You just go on court and try and play your best."

Pick: Radwanska in two

[6] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP #6) vs. [30] Zhang Shuai (CHN #33)
Head-to-head: Zhang leads, 1-0
Key Stat: Muguruza improved to 6-1 in three-setters this season with her win over McHale on Friday.

After saving a match point and battling back from a break down in the third set to defeat American Christina McHale, Garbiñe Muguruza will now set her sights on matching her career-best performance at Miami. But to reach the round of 16 for the fourth time in six career appearances here, Muguruza will have to avenge a tough loss from earlier this season. Zhang defeated Muguruza, 7-6(3), 3-6, 7-5 in Doha in February, and the Chinese No.1 has now won three of her last five against the Top 10 after losing nine of eleven to start her career.

28-year-old Zhang is a remarkable story. After years of struggles she was contemplating retirement, but her fortunes have changed since the beginning of 2016 and she has risen over 100 spots in the WTA rankings in 15 months. Will she be able to continue her form against one of the game's premier power players on Saturday, or will it be Muguruza who powers into the round of 16 with a new lease on life after saving match points on Friday?

Pick: Muguruza in three

By the Numbers:

20 - Karolina Pliskova is tied for the tour lead in wins with 20. The Czech did not score her 20th win until June last season.

5 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands has made the quarterfinal or better in five of her 11 appearances at Miami.

1 - Bethanie Mattek-Sands recorded her first win of the season on Thursday over No.9-seeded Elina Svitolina. It was also Mattek-Sand's first Top 10 win since 2015.

13 - Ajla Tomljanovic's win over No.13-ranked Elena Vesnina on Friday was her biggest win rankings-wise since 2014, when she defeated then World No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska at Roland Garros.

 

Get on the Road to Singapore to see who are amongst the top 8 in the first Leaderboard update!

This article was first seen on www.wtatennis.com.




 

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