Miami Open 2021: Ashleigh Barty vs Victoria Azarenka Preview, Prediction and Head-to-Head

Published 03/28/2021, 3:14 AM EDT
Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 9, 2021 Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka reacts during her first round match against Jessica Pegula of the U.S. REUTERS/Jaimi Joy


If it’s a battle between a player ranked Number 1 and another placed comfortably away at Number 15, one would fancy the former to hold a clear edge over the latter. However, current ranking positions would matter little when Ashleigh Barty takes on Victoria Azarenka at the pre-quarters of the Miami Open on Monday.

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Though outside the top-10 in the rankings, the veteran Belarussian tennis star has had a run of success on court since making an early exit from this year’s Australian Open.

Victoria Azarenka and Ashleigh Barty will play for a place in the quarters

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A two-time former champion, Azarenka fell to a straight-set loss against American Jessica Pegula in the opening round of the Australian Open.

However, she has since managed to debunk doubts around her form by reaching the semifinals of WTA Doha on the back of some impressive wins.

An injury forced her to concede the last-four clash to eventual losing finalist and two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza.

Looking back, she would perhaps regret the quirk of fate that prevented her from landing her first Tour title of the year.

However, her signature flair and flourish were evident in her win over veteran German star Angelique Kerber in Miami on Saturday.

Tennis – Australian Open – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, February 17, 2021 Australia’s Ashleigh Barty during her quarter final match against Czech Republic’s Karolína Muchova REUTERS/Kelly Defina

There was enough in her performance against the former Major winner to suggest that she was fit and firing again, and was ready to take on all comers in the tournament going forward.

And it is in the context of her facile round-of-32 win over the German and her recent run of success that the clash against the World Number 1 ought to be previewed.

Barty benefitted from the ranking-freeze announced last year to hold on to her Numero Uno place despite taking a year out of tennis.

She is still easing her way back into the grind of things and looked clearly short of a gallop in her Miami opener against Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia. 

The defending champion suffered a mid-match slump before recovering well enough to eke out a hard-fought win.

Azarenka and Barty are currently tied 1-1 in head-to-head battles

Carrying a nation’s hopes into the Australian Open, Barty reached the quarters before falling to Czech Karolina Muchova in three sets.

She then followed up her Melbourne Park exit with an opening-round loss at WTA Adelaide International.

Given their contrasting fortunes on Tour this year, there will be no favorite going into the round-of-16 duel on Monday.

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So, with Azarenka and Barty tied 1-1 in head-to-head battles, it would be a fool’s errand to call the tie in favor of either.

More: WATCH: Victoria Azarenka Wins the Weirdest Point of the Year

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So, expect a Monday blockbuster when the two heavyweights of women’s tennis go against each other for a place in the quarter-finals.

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Priyabrata Chowdhury

1101 articles

Priyabrata Chowdhury is a tennis author for EssentiallySports. He has been a print journalist for a decade, producing news pages for leading national dailies such as the Hindustan Times and The New Indian Express. His passion for sports eventually drove him to tennis writing.

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