June 13, 2024

Open Court

MORE TENNIS THAN YOU'LL EVER NEED

Solid lineup in Miami Open women’s qualifying

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – The schedules are all over the place during this Sunshine Double.

And that means that the women’s qualifying gets under way tomorrow (Sunday) at Hard Rock Stadium, with the singles draw also being made on Sunday.

The men’s qualifying begins Monday, and the women’s main draw on Tuesday.

The bad-luck lady of this qualifying draw is Varvara Gracheva, who finds herself as the No. 1 seed in qualifying.

Gracheva’s ranking was at No. 66, following her trip to the finals at the WTA tournament in Austin, Texas the week before Indian Wells.

But with the earlier entry deadlines, the 22-year-old was the first alternate into the Indian Wells main draw. She never made it in. And so she had to come straight from making the final at the WTA tournament in Austin, Texas and rush to the desert to quickly acclimate and play her first-round qualifying match the next day.

Gracheva beat promising youngster Petra Marcinko, then the next day survived a marathon three-setter against Anna-Lena Friedsam.

Then she defeated Ysaline Bonaventure, Petra Martic and No. 8 seed Daria Kasatkina to make the fourth round before losing to Elena Rybakina.

The best stretch of tennis of her career. And her live ranking is at No. 53.

But still, she has to play qualfying, and will face Reka-Luca Jani of Hungary in the first round on Sunday.

Tennis really is a sport in which you keep having to prove yourself.

Other notables in the Miami Q draw

Muchova during her 2nd-round match at the Miami Open in 2022 against Leylah Fernandez. It was her first tournament since the 2021 US Open; after beating Fernandez, she withdrew before facing Naomi Osaka in the third round

Karolina Muchova, who made the quarterfinals at Indian Wells and gave Elena Rybakina everything she could handle before going down 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-4, is the No. 4 seed in qualifying.

She must be out of opportunities to use her protected ranking of No. 22. So she’ll have to do it the hard way; she’s in on an entry ranking of No. 112. But she’s seeded based on her current ranking of No. 76.

Muchova’s live ranking is No. 55; she finally got her comeback moving almost before it was too late. It won’t take much more for her not to have to worry about getting into tournaments this spring – except, she has to defend third-round points next week first.

But in the meantime, she should get through.

Canadian Katherine Sebov was given a wild card into the qualifying, and will face Kamilla Rakhimova in the first round.

She’s the only Canadian. Eugenie Bouchard had used her protected ranking of No. 118 to enter the qualifying draw. But as with Monterrey (wild card) and Indian Wells (qualifying) before that, she withdrew.

Dayana Yastremska, who got a wild card into the qualifying (in Indian Wells, it was into the main draw) will face American Caty McNally.

Taylor Townsend is getting no favours from the American tournaments; she’s in the qualifying with her protected ranking of No. 84.

She faces No. 14 seed Viktorija Golubic in the first round.

Except … Townsend is the first alternate for the main draw. So if someone pulls out before the start of play tomorrow, she would get straight in. As it happens, Golubic is the second alternate.

You just hope that if players do withdraw, with the main draw beginning Tuesday, they won’t wait until the last minute. But they probably will.

Zvonareva is BACK, baby

Vera Zvonareva is in the qualifying as well, to face No. 24 seed Eva Lys of Germany.

The 38-year-old is reuniting in Miami with doubles partner Laura Siegemund, who is also in the qualifying (against No. 11 seed Diana Shnaider). If both win, they would play each other.

They are the defending champions, having beaten Mertens and Kudermetova in last year’s final.

Zvonareva got to the third round in Miami a year ago in singles, out of the qualifying. But she has played just two matches since – both last month on the Middle East swing.

She played doubles in all three Middle East tournaments with Yang Zhaoxuan, with her best result a semifinal in Qatar.

But first Siegemund has to GET to Miami, as she was in Indian Wells Saturday in the doubles final with Beatriz Haddad Maia. They lost to No. 1 seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

Who else?

The No. 12 seed is Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, who qualified in Indian Wells, upset Donna Vekic in the second round and was to play No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the third round. But she withdrew before the match, stating “personal reasons” that turned out to be a struggle with panic attacks before the match against a Belarussian player.

She gets Coco Vandeweghe in the first round.

The full draw is here.

Sunday’s schedule is here.

They’ve spread it out on a fair few courts, with rainy weather expected to move in in the early afternoon.

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