Miami R1: Yulia Putintseva vs (wc) Nicole Gibbs
Main draw action at the Miami Open begins on Tuesday, arguably the most intriguing encounter of the day sees Yulia Putintseva come up against Nicole Gibbs. Yulia and Nicole have both made positive starts to the season, arguably the strongest start to a season for both ladies. This will be the first ever encounter between the pair and promises to be an exciting clash between two confident, in form players.
Yulia Putintseva has been refreshingly focused and consistent over the last couple of months ever since her significant victory over Caroline Wozniacki in the first round at the Australian Open. Yulia hasn’t done much wrong in season 2016, it has generally taken a top opponent to defeat the Kazakh. Yulia arrives in Miami after a good week at BNP Paribas Open where she recorded straight set wins over Shuai Peng and Kristina Mladenovic before being defeated by Serena Williams 6-7 0-6. Yulia really pushed Serena, particularly in the first set where the Kazakh served for the set on two occasions but was ultimately no match for Serena’s best. Yulia will be hoping for another good event to keep building on the positive momentum she has created in last couple of months.
Nicole Gibbs also arrives in Miami full of confidence after a great week at the BNP Paribas Open. The American came through the qualifying draw to reach the fourth round, her best result at a premier mandatory event. Gibbs recorded straight set wins over Alexandra Dulgheru, Madison Keys and Yaroslava Shvedova before being defeated by Petra Kvitova in a tight three set match. Gibbs came through the qualifying draw to reach the quarter-finals in Monterrey in the week prior to Indian Wells, clearly the American is in good form, probably the best form of her career.
Yulia and Nicole look pretty evenly matched on paper, however I do believe Yulia should have the slight edge in this match-up. Both players are primarily good defensive players and are rarely the aggressor in a match, both are great movers and give very little away. The difference could be that Yulia has more variety in her game, playing with different spins and depth of shots. The slower, heavy conditions in Miami should favour Yulia. This will be a different test for Gibbs, she has relied on her opponents hitting a lot of unforced errors in most of her wins in recent events, that will not happen here, she will need to hit through Yulia.