3rd round of Miami Open in WTA competition delivered some interesting match-ups and exciting three-setters. The most interesting one was for sure the clash between Elena Rybakina and Paula Badosa. The Kazakh, who won the Indian Wells in last week, is still in contention for the Sunshine Double achievement, and was a confident pre-match favorite with an odd 1.34. The course of event during the match was quite different tough. The Spaniard started really well, putting the pressure on Rybakina, who was surprisingly struggling with serve, which is her huge weapon in this season so far. Rybakina lost 4 out of 5 service games in first set, holding the only one after defending 5 breakpoints. Badosa moved into second set with a 6-3 score and playing really well and composed. The Spaniard made a big step to get close to the victory, gaining another break in 6th game of second set, moving up into 4-2 lead. She lost her advantage in the following game, but had a big opportunity in 10th game. Rybakina was serving under pressure, being *4-5 down, and facing the breakpoint within the score 30-40, which was the matchpoint at the same time. The Kazakh cleared the danger, won this game and two following ones as well, forcing the decider. It was the turning point of this match, as Rybakina clicked the gear since then and came back to her great serving level. The third set was even till 6th game, once it was all level. Rybakina turned out to be better in three following games, breaking Badosa twice and clinching the 3-6 7-5 6-3 victory after really exciting match.
Anastasia Potapova eliminated Cori Gauff in another exciting three sets battle. The American was a pre-match favorite with an odd 1.45, but it was the Russian who started better, earning the early break and facing the chance to serve out the first set within a score 5-3. Gauff broke back then and players approached the tie-break, which was an intense battle. Both players had two setpoint chances after multiple minibreaks on both sides. Potapova did not convert her chances again and Gauff won this tiebreak 10-8. Potapova was seemingly not discouraged but the blown chances, putting the pressure on Gauff in second set and producing 3 breakpoints in opening games, but it was still on level till 8th game when Gauff broke for the score 5-3. Once it was seemingly coming to the end, the favorite has dropped the ball. Gauff did not serve out the win within a score 5-3, lost 4 games in a row and Potapova forced the decider despite all the chances wasted before. The Russian was unbeatable in third set, serving with superb confidence, giving away just 2 points for her opponent during service games. She won 4 games in a row since the score 2-2 and clinched a huge victory over a top 10 player and local favorite. 6-7(8) 7-5 6-2 is the score.
Qinwen Zheng will be Potapova's opponent in Round of 16. The Chinese who comes back after injury did also provide a fabulous spectacle, defeating Liudmila Samsonova 5-7 7-6(5) 6-3 after 3:08 hours of battle. Zheng opened the match with a break and was leading 5-3, but did not manage to close the set, as Samsonova came back to win 4 games in a row and clinch this set with a score 7-5. Second set was a display of strong serving performance from both, as tiebreak was needed after 12 games without a break, with just 2 breakpoints for the Russian in the opening one. Zheng won it 7-5 and forced the decider. This set was also started better by Samsonova. The 12th seed gained a break in 2nd game and was leading 3-0. Zheng raised up her level strongly, winning 6 games in a row since then and denying the win of higher ranked opponent. The Chinese was serving superbly, scoring 18 aces to just 6 double faults, while Samsonova had just 5 aces on her account to as many as 9 DFs.
Magda Linette comes back to a good run of form displayed in this year's Australian Open. The Pole who reached out the Grand Slam semifinal for the first time in career, did not follow the blow in further tournament appearances, as she won just 2 matches since then, scoring 3 defeats in a row. This time she was facing Victoria Azarenka. The Belarusian was a confident pre-match favorite with an odd 1.34. The match started with a good battle in opening set. Both players shared two breaks between each other and settled the set in tie-break, won 7-3 by Linette. The Pole capitalized on that, opening the second set with a break and setting up a good position for the whole victory. Then, Azarenka turned the match over, winning 8 games in a row, taking the second set on the road (6-2) and moving into 2-0 lead in third set. Barely one could expect another plot twist there, but Linette regrouped herself, surprisingly breaking Azarenka twice in a row. The Pole moved into the lead and held the serve confidently till the end. Great win for Linette, who will look for another surprise, facing Jessica Pegula in next round.
Bianca Andreescu vs Sofia Kenin was a match-up between Grand Slam champions with a background story of both trying to find the groove back after health issues. Andreescu scored two impressive wins against Emma Raducanu and Maria Sakkari in preceding rounds, while coming into 3rd round was the biggest achievement from Kenin since quite a long time. The Canadian was on the front foot from the start till the end, winning it 6-4 6-4. She was serving well with 7 aces to just 1 double fault. Both players produced just 4 breakpoints in general throughout the whole match, and interestingly, all of them were converted into breaks. It has decided the final score, as Andreescu made it 3 times, to just one break scored by Kenin, once she was already 1-4* down in second set.
Ekaterina Alexandrova will be the Canadian's opponent in Round of 16. The Russian made quite an upset on Belinda Bencic, defeating the Swiss 7-6(8) 6-3. First set was a highlight of this match. Bencic had two setpoints in 10th game, during the Russian's serve. Alexandrova held it and tie-break was needed after some long games played on deuces and multiple breakpoints. The Swiss was leading 5-2 with double mini-break there, but Alexandrova fought back from this, defending another two setpoints on the road and crossing the line with a score 10-8. This set took as long as 74 minutes. Second one was not a story, as the Russian gained break after the start and held consecutively till the end. It is quite a miserable time for Bencic, who was playing superbly till the middle of February, being one 4 dangerous players in the tour alongside Sabalenka, Rybakina or Swiatek. Everything turned out since Doha, when the Swiss needed to withdraw before the match against the Pole. She managed to win just two matches out of 5 since then and will try to find back her form on clay.
Aryna Sabalenka and Barbora Krejcikova will set-up the hit clash in the Round of 16. The Czech, who is currently one of the best in-form players, was the first one to defeat Sabalenka in 2023. Both players delivered a great show in Indian Wells, where the Belarusian took the revenge in three sets. Now, they meet again, being both in a good shape, not losing a single set so far in Miami.