Date: 25 March 2021
Tournament: Miami Open 2021
Round: Second round (Round of 64)
Venue: Miami, Florida
Category: WTA 1000
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $3,340,000
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | UK - Europsort
Maria Sakkari vs Arantxa Rus preview
World No. 25 Maria Sakkari will be looking to get her 2021 season back on track when she takes on the Netherlands' Arantxa Rus in her Miami opener.
Sakkari had been in a rich vein of form at the start of the year, with good showings at the Grampians Trophy and Abu Dhabi (reaching the semifinals of both). However, the Greek found herself dumped out of the 2021 Australian Open in her first match itself, as she lost to the mercurial Kristina Mladenovic.
She rebounded with a run to the quarterfinals at Doha, but then again got knocked out in the first round of the Dubai Tennis Championships.
World No. 84 Arantxa Rus, meanwhile, is a former junior World No. 1. But the Dutchwoman has not been able to translate that success onto the pro tour, with her career-high ranking being No. 61 in the world.
Despite her underwhelming career record so far, Rus punched above her weight on Monday as she took out World No. 47 Marie Bouzkova in the first round.
Maria Sakkari vs Arantxa Rus head-to-head
Maria Sakkari leads Arantxa Rus by a margin of 1-0 in the head-to-head. Their only encounter came in the quarterfinals of the 2018 Istanbul Open, where Sakkari beat Rus in three sets.
Maria Sakkari vs Arantxa Rus prediction
Perhaps the most important quality of Maria Sakkari, which has facilitated her steady climb up the rankings, is her impressive physical conditioning. The Greek can rely on her strength to outlast pretty much any opponent from the baseline. She also has a strong first serve and solid groundstrokes, which often help her dominate the proceedings.
Arantxa Rus, on the other hand, specializes in hitting loopy, topspin forehands. While Rus' style could make her a tricky player for Sakkari, the Dutchwoman will likely be pushed on to the backfoot while returning her opponent's big serve.
Sakkari has also gained a lot of experience in big tournaments over the past one year, while Rus has cleared the first round of Miami for the first time in her career. All things considered, Sakkari is likely to cruise to the third round at Miami with a comfortable win.
Prediction: Maria Sakkari to win in straight sets.