Date: 27 March 2021
Tournament: Miami Open 2021
Round: Third Round (Round of 32)
Venue: Miami, Florida
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $3,340,000
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Europsort
Aryna Sabalenka vs Veronika Kudermetova preview
Seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka will continue her campaign in Miami when she takes on Russia's Veronika Kudermetova in the third round on Saturday.
Sabalenka had a great start to her 2021 season as she won the WTA 500 tournament in Abu Dhabi. The Belarusian then had another good campaign at the Australian Open, where she reached the second week before losing to 23-time Major winner Serena Williams in three sets.
That said, Sabalenka hasn't enjoyed great results since then; the World No. 8 lost early in her last two tournaments, both times to Garbine Muguruza.
Sabalenka did rediscover some of her form towards the end of her opening-round win against Tsvetana Pironkova, as she overcame a first-set bagel. The Belarusian also saved multiple match points in a winner-take-all tiebreaker, playing aggressive tennis when it mattered most.
Veronika Kudermetova, on the other hand, is still looking for her big breakthrough. The Russian reached the final of the Abu Dhabi event at the beginning of the year, losing to Sabalenka herself. But her performances have been lackluster since then, as she has compiled a 6-7 W-L record.
Kudermetova will be eager to turn her fortunes around in Miami this week. She looked up for the challange in her first-round match, as she beat USA's Danielle Collins in straight sets.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Veronika Kudermetova head-to-head
Aryna Sabalenka leads Veronika Kudermetova by a margin of 1-0 in their head-to-head. Their only encounter took place in the championship match at Abu Dhabi this year, when Sabalenka beat Kudermetova 6-2, 6-2.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Veronika Kudermetova prediction
Veronika Kudermetova's power off the ground is nowhere close to that of Aryna Sabalenka. But the Russian has a great aptitude for playing from the back of the court with her solid baseline game.
While Kudermetova has enjoyed most of her success on slower surfaces, she has proved since the tour restart last year that she can hold her ground in faster conditions too.
Even so, the 23-year-old will likely be overmatched b Sabalenka, who is a true-blue power hitter. The Belarusian has always been good at striking the ball hard and flat, and of late she has also been clutch in the crucial moments.
Sabalenka has a big first serve, but her second serve lets her down at times. In her last match against Pironkova, the 22-year-old committed seven double faults in the deciding set.
Sabalenka will have to keep herself from coughing up double faults at crucial junctures on Saturday. If she manages to do that, she will likely reach the fourth round of Miami without much hassle.
Prediction: Aryna Sabalenka to win in straight sets.