By Jane Voigt
Miami, Fla. — The women’s singles draw at the Sony Open is either half full or half empty, depending upon your point of view.
If the draw’s half full, then opportunities abound for those who have knocked off seeds, as the third round gets underway today.
Caroline Garcia of France is now on the verge of main-stage tennis, or a nervous breakdown, as her win over Klara Zakopalova (No. 27) lead to defending champion and the No. 1 seed, Serena Williams.
Qualifier Coco Vandeweghe took out Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (No. 21) in a surprise 2-set win for the six-foot-one Californian. She now faces Samantha Stosur (No. 16). Both women depend on their serves in a big way. Stosur probably has the best serve on tour alongside Serena Williams. Vandeweghe, though, is no slouch and can pump-up her speeds to well-over 110 M.P.H., if only they land inside the box.
Tsvetana Pironkova bid adieu to Sorana Cirstea (No. 25). The Bulgarian is the only woman who can claim two wins in consecutive years over 5-time Wimbledon Champion Venus Williams at Wimbledon. Pironkova’s next challenge is Angelique Kerber, the No. 5 seed. Kerber can thank her lucky stars she’s still around. She snuck past an inspired Shuai Peng in a match that was settled in a third-set tiebreak on a sunny humid south Florida afternoon.
Seventeen-year-old Qualifier Donna Vekic defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (No. 28), who is a decade older than the Croatian. Then she played 43-year-old Kimiko Date Krumm and beat her. Date Krumm arguably could be Vekic’s mother at over twice her age. Vekic next plays the 2011 Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova (No. 8).
Roberta Vinci (No. 13) is not a steady player and neither is Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. And neither had acclimated to the hot sticky weather, which was a formula for an entertaining match if you like swings, loops, and occasional displays of temper. Yet victory goes to those that force a pinch of stamina and will. In this match Strycova pushed through and advanced.
Strycova’s opponent should have been Eugenie Bouchard (No. 18), one of the budding WTA stars who just celebrated her 20th birthday at Indian Wells. But instead an alternate bloomer, Elina Svitolina, came from a set down to wallop the Canadian 16 61 62.
Vavara Lepchenko scored a massive win over the dramatic Jelena Jankovic (No. 7) in the next closest bracket while Ajla Tomljanovic sent Garbine Muguruza (No. 30) home. American Madison Keys showed 30-year-old Daniela Hantuchova (No. 31) how the game has grown from power to more power in her 64 62 victory. Keys will play the 2013 Sony Open semifinalist Li Na.
Did the fallen seeds play poorly? That, again, depends upon your point of view unless the stats reveal otherwise. If Bouchard had poor service and dismal return stats, then her usual game could have gone off.
But let’s add this … Bouchard arrived at the Sony Open from Indian Wells after days of matches in desert conditions on similar slow hard courts. No matter how fast your star is rising, being tired shuts down your best assets and dictates a downward direction no matter what.