MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – Seeded women continue to have major struggles at the Miami Open.
Coco Gauff is one of the few exceptions.
The 14th-seeded American, whose home is about a 45-minute drive north from where she’s playing this event, got past Wang Qiang of China 7-5, 6-4 – avenging a first-round loss to her in the Australian Open earlier this year.
“I think I hit a lot of good shots on the run,” Gauff said.
Gauff, who turned 18 earlier this month, made her WTA Tour debut three years ago at the Miami Open. She reached the second round that year, was ousted in the second round last year and now is in the third round at Miami for the first time.
“I was just super motivated today,” Gauff said.
No. 16 Jessica Pegula felt right at home too, even though the tournament is held on the grounds where the NFL’s Miami Dolphins practice and play – and her parents, Terry and Kim Pegula, just happen to own the Dolphins’ AFC East rival Buffalo Bills. Pegula had little trouble beating 2018 Miami Open winner Sloane Stephens 6-1, 6-4.
More than half of the women who were seeded going into the tournament won’t even be around for the first weekend, with four more – No. 10 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, No. 20 Elise Mertens of Belgium, No. 24 Sorana Cirstea of Romania, and No. 29 Liudmila Samsonova of Russia – getting eliminated in second-round matches Friday.
Their losses meant 15 seeded women have now lost their opening matches at the tournament, with 11 – including top-seeded Aryna Sabalenka – getting defeated Thursday alone. Another four seeded women have withdrawn with either injuries or ailments, meaning no more than 13 of the original 32 seeds will get to the third round.
Shelby Rogers of the U.S. used 15 aces – and saved nine of the 10 break points she faced – to beat Ostapenko, 6-3, 7-6 (0). It was Rogers’ second win over Ostapenko this month, after also topping her in a second-round matchup at Indian Wells.
“There are no easy matches out here,” said Rogers, who has now made the third round at Miami for just the second time; she also did it in 2017. “Whether you play the same people week to week or not, you’ve still got to go out there and perform. I just tried to focus on my side of the court and did the best I could.”
Madison Brengle of the U.S. beat Samsonova 6-4, 6-0. China’s Zhang Shuai needed only 53 minutes to beat Cirstea, 6-1, 6-1. Linda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic topped Mertens 7-5, 2-6, 6-1.
Other seeded second-round women’s winners Friday included No. 17 Elena Rybakina and No. 21 Veronika Kudermetova.
Later Friday, No. 2 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland can clinch the world’s No. 1 ranking if she defeats Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland in a second-round match. It’s Swiatek’s first match of the tournament; she, like all seeds, got a bye into the second round.
Swiatek would be assured of moving into the No. 1 spot because Ashleigh Barty, who had held the top spot until her retirement announcement earlier this week, has asked to be removed from the next set of rankings. The updated list will come out after the Miami Open concludes.
“We’re going to definitely miss Ash on tour,” Gauff said.
In men’s second-round play Friday, No. 10 Cameron Norrie improved to 12-2 in his past 14 outings by beating fellow British player Jack Draper in straight sets. No. 17 Pablo Carreno Busta and No. 31 Fabio Fognini also prevailed.
Hugo Gaston knocked out No. 20 John Isner of the U.S., topping the 2018 Miami champion 7-6 (5), 6-4. Isner had 22 aces and was broken just once, but went 0 for 5 on his break chances.