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Miami Preview

by J.M.

An All-Russian Affair:

Myskina had an easy victory yesterday when she absolutely thrashed Emilie Loit of France, 6-0 6-3. This was a very successful transition from the hardcourts to clay and it has rewarded her with a match against Russian qualifier, Nadia Petrova. This young Russian is well accustomed to the clay courts at Sarasota as she has already played and won five matches. She firstly played three matches to qualify for the event, where she only lost one set, and then today defeated Russian veteran Elena Likhovtseva to earn a second round meeting with Myskina. Petrova also won her opening doubles match with Jelena Dokic.

2003:

Myskina has had a relatively good start to the year, after reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and winning Doha. However, as of late, she ahs not been playing to her potential. She firstly lost in the second round at Indian Wells to up-and-coming Russian sensation, Svetlana Kuznetsova, in three tightly contested sets. Anastasia then fell to unheralded American wildcard Sarah Taylor 7-5 6-4 at the Nasdaq-100 event in Miami, again losing in the second round. These results were particularly unusual as Myskina is not known for losing to players ranked well below her and the fact that she lost to Taylor a few weeks ago suggests she had lost some confidence from her recent defeat against Kuznetsova. What was interesting in that match as well was the amount of errors she produced and the fact that she only won 39% of the points when her first serve went in! She desperately needs to improve these stats if wants to move in to the top 10 and win this tournament!

Petrova, on the other hand, is still trying to improve her ranking after she injured herself at the beginning of last year, which has caused her much difficulty and many months of recuperation. She was able to qualify for the Gold Coast tournament in January though and win her opening round match before falling to Elena Bovina in three sets. She then put in a fantastic effort at the Australian Open where she made the 3rd round. However, she failed to qualify at Indian Wells and Miami over the past month, falling in the second round of qualifications both time. Nevertheless, she seems to enjoy the clay season and proved this in 2001 where she made the 4th round of the French Open.

Contrasting Styles…

Anastasia relies on her groundstrokes to win the points as she hits the ball very flat and hard. With such a style of play, she has been able to defeat the likes of Clijsters, Henin-Hardenne, Dokic and Hantuchova, as well as stretching Venus Williams on a number of occasions! Her serve is definitely not her strength, but she can definitely use it to her advantage when necessary. Conversely, Nadia Petrova has a huge serve that allows her to gain many free points. However, it can be inconsistent at times and will not be as effective on clay, as this surface tends to slow the ball down. Petrova seems to be a very similar player to Kuznetsova in that both players hit the ball with tremendous amounts of power that can put their opponents on the defensive. Myskina should therefore be wary of this, as she does not want to suffer another early-round exit. As mentioned before, power is not an advantage on clay so she should be able to pull through this match with her experience and groundstrokes.

Career Meetings:

Myskina and Petrova have only played once before:

3 Key Biscayne 2000 Petrova d. Myskina 6-1 4-6 6-0

This match was played a couple of years ago when both players were developing their style of games and trying to make their mark on the WTA tour. A lot has changed since both players met over three years ago, with Myskina virtually in the top 10 after Dokic failed to defend her title, and Petrova now having to qualify for events after her ranking slipped from injuries. They would probably know each other’s games pretty well though as they are both Russian and would probably have grown up together, playing the same tournaments etc. As a result, expect a tight two setter or a lopsided three setter match for this one, dependent upon whether or not Myskina can keep the unforced errors down and is hitting the ball well.

Prediction:

Myskina d. Petrova in two tight sets.

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