Before each day's play at the 2021 Miami Open, we'll preview three matches to look out for.
Alizé Cornet vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova
These two have made a combined 28 Miami appearances since making their debuts (Kuznetsova 2003, Cornet 2008). The Russian enters with superior form in recent weeks. In Dubai, she beat Wang Qiang and ousted top seed Elina Svitolina; on home soil in St. Petersburg, she reached the semifinals. Cornet is 1-4 in her last five matches, with her lone victory coming against a reinvigorated Daria Kasatkina in Dubai.
The pair’s head-to-head is an even 3-3, though they will square off for the first time since 2017 Wuhan, when Cornet moved ahead 2-1 in their hard-court meetings. Fifteen years ago, Kuznetsova triumphed over Maria Sharapova to win Miami and returned to the final in 2016 at its former venue on Key Biscayne. She’s never lost in the first round, so history looks to be on her side in this encounter.
This all-American affair sees Giron and Paul take their rivalry to the tour level for the first time. Their three previous clashes all occurred on U.S. soil, beginning with a Futures in 2017 and later at Challengers in 2018 and 2019. Both have since graduated to ATP Tour regulars and picked up their first Grand Slam main draw wins last season.
Starting with 2020 Hamburg, Paul has won 10 of his 12 main-draw openers, but went on to lose his next match in eight of those events. Giron ended last season with two Top 15 wins over No. 14 Goffin in Antwerp and No. 10 Matteo Berrettini in Paris-Bercy, though enters this showdown winless in his past three main draws. The winner will get another dose of stars and stripes across the net, as No. 22 seed Taylor Fritz awaits.
In late February, Collins posted her first win over a world No. 1 when she took down Ashleigh Barty in Adelaide. Collins retired in her next match down a set and 3-0 to eventual champion Iga Swiatek, but should be hungry to return at a tournament in her home state. Three years ago, the American broke out on the big stage when she upset Venus Williams in the quarterfinals of Miami.
Former world No. 10 Mladenovic will hope to repeat her success over Collins two years ago in Beijing to give herself a shot at changing her fortune in a tournament of this caliber. Since finishing runner-up at 2017 Madrid, Mladenovic has advanced beyond the third round just once in 26 1000-level events, and is 3-7 at the longstanding South Florida calendar staple.