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Maria Sakkari vs. Bianca Andreescu

Early-risers should be in for a treat when these two take the stadium court at high noon. The semifinal that Sakkari and Andreescu staged here in 2021 was one of the best matches of that year. It was a no-holds-barred, no-emotions-concealed slugfest that the Canadian won by a whisker, 7-6 in the third. Later that same season, Sakkari got revenge at the US Open, in a fourth-round match that was just as physical and nearly as good.

In the two years since, neither woman has been as successful as we might have thought they would be. But each has shown signs of coming around this spring. Sakkari made the semifinals in Indian Wells, and Andreescu played Iga Swiatek close there. Sakkari is still the much higher-ranked player, and she some day might prove to have the same Slam-winning upside as Bianca. But she hasn’t yet. Winner: Andreescu

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Andrey Rublev vs. J.J. Wolf

Two of the premier heads of ATP hair will square off on the Grandstand at 11:00 A.M. Friday. Aside from the war of the locks, the Russian and the American should also put on a pretty fair ground-stroke display for the fans inside that compact court.

Rublev would seem to be the heavy favorite. He’s ranked No. 7 and Wolf is No. 50, he won their only previous meeting in straight sets, and since making the fourth round at the Australian Open, Wolf has hit a bit of a slippery patch in his season, having lost first-round matches in Acapulco and Indian Wells. But he looked better against Alexander Bublik in his Miami opener, and he’ll have the crowd backing tomorrow. Still, he may need more than that to stay with Rublev. Winner: Rublev

GettyImages-1249033284

GettyImages-1249033284

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Aryna Sabalenka vs. Shelby Rogers

How will Sabalenka react to having lost the Indian Wells final on Sunday, and, perhaps worse, seeing her second-serve yips return? If her form in every other match in 2023 is any indication, it shouldn’t be a problem. Just when you think she might revert to her inconsistent form of old, she powers ahead and mows down another quality opponent.

“Mow down” is a pretty fair description of what Sabalenka did to Rogers when they met in the second round at the Australian Open two months ago—she won 6-3, 6-1. She also won their other two meetings, though one them went to 6-4 in the third. Rogers, who is fitter and moving better than she has in the past, and who will have a home night crowd behind her in the stadium, should have a fighting chance. Can she fight long enough to make those Sabalenka service yips reappear again? Winner: Sabalenka