Miami Open 2022 overview: Can Swiatek and Fritz join elite by claiming the ‘Sunshine Double’?

Only the new Indian Wells champions can win the Double, but Medvedev could reclaim No1; Former champions Djokovic, Barty, Federer absent; previous champs Murray, Azarenka, Stephens present

Iga Swiatek
Iga Swiatek (Photo: YouTube / Screengrab)

It is recognised as one of the biggest challenges in the tennis calendar, the March double header known as the ‘Sunshine Double’. No sooner is the Indian Wells jamboree in the desert of California done than the Miami carnival in sultry Florida on the opposite coast of the United States takes over.

The draws are just as big, the competition just as fierce, the prize pots just as eye-watering—a cool $1.23 million and 1000 points for each of the singles champions.

Both singles draws comprise 96 players and 32 seeds—all of whom enjoy opening-round byes. And that means that the remaining 64 have to win seven matches if they are to lift the trophy.

Last year, of course, the two tournaments were played six months apart. Both were abandoned in 2020 amid the arrival of the Covid pandemic, and last year, Miami went ahead in its usual slot—though with heavily limited fans. But Indian Wells postponed to October, becoming the last outdoor hard-court Masters/1000 of the year instead of the first.

But now the sunshine siblings are back to their packed March places for the first time since 2019, though there are still some restrictions to the USA for unvaccinated visitors.

Yet even with byes in the opening rounds, winning the ‘Sunshine Double’ is an almighty task, as evidenced by the stature of the few players who have achieved it.

Among active players are only Novak Djokovic (a record four times), Roger Federer (three times), and Victoria Azarenka (twice), and the only players who can add their names this year are the new world No2 Iga Swiatek, and the new No13 Taylor Fritz, both first-time champions at Indian Wells yesterday.

Notable absentees

Indeed the two most successful Miami champions in recent history, Djokovic and Federer, have been absent from both tournaments, the former due to those USA restrictions, the latter with continuing recovery from repeated knee surgery.

The third in the great men’s triumvirate, and new world No3 Rafael Nadal, opted out od Miami to allow some recovery from his extraordinary 20-match-winning streak since the start of the year, a streak that ended in the Indian Wells final with a painful shoulder/chest.

The No1 on the women’s side, Ash Barty, also withdrew from both Indian Wells and Miami, a particular blow in the latter case because the Australian champion was the back-to-back and defending Miami champion.

This week’s No4 Barbora Krejcikova also withdrew from both events with a wrist injury. Meanwhile, Miami’s most prolific winner and favourite daughter, Serena Williams, has not played anywhere since her enforced retirement with injury at Wimbledon last year.

So who top the seeds?

Daniil Medvedev’s brief residency at No1 came to an end sooner than expected considering Djokovic was not in Indian Wells. The Russian needed only to reach the fourth round but fell short, the third round.

The Australian Open runner-up has yet to win a title since claiming his 13th at last year’s US Open. However, once again, he only needs to reach the quarters in Miami to overtake Djokovic at No1. His best result in the Florida draw was just that, last year.

On the women’s side, despite her slip in the ranks to No5 after Indian Wells, is Aryna Sabalenka, who made her third opening exit of the year in Indian Wells.

Both top seeds, it should be added, are playing with more weight on their shoulders than just their place atop the draws.

Russia, Belarus and Ukraine events

Following the invasion of Ukraine almost a month ago, Russian and Belarusian players are not permitted to play under their nation’s name or flag—and that applies to several significant participants in Miami.

In the spotlight are no fewer than four Russian men among the seeds, topped by Medvedev but also including one of the most successful men this season, No7-ranked Andrey Rublev. Since reaching the Rotterdam semis, Rublev won back-to-back titles in Marseille—where he was also doubles champion—and Dubai, and made the semis in Indian Wells.

Other seeds include Sydney champion Aslan Karatsev, ranked 32, and Adelaide runner-up, Karen Khachanov, ranked 25.

On the women’s side, Belarusian Sabalenka is joined by former champion and compatriot Azarenka, ranked No16. Both have made significant anti-war comments, but the stresses surely remain high.

Other seeds from Russia include 23-ranked Veronika Kudermetova, 29-ranked Daria Kasatkina, and 30-ranked Liudmila Samsonov.

Women’s draw facts and figures

2022 WTA winners on outdoor hard courts

Adelaide 500: Ash Barty

Melbourne Summer Set 1: Simona Halep

Melbourne Summer Set 2: Amanda Anisimova

Sydney: Paula Badosa

Adelaide 250: Madison Keys

Australian Open: Ash Barty

Dubai: Jelena Ostapenko

Doha: Iga Swiatek

Guadalajara: Sloane Stephens

Monterrey: Leylah Fernandez

Indian Wells: Iga Swiatek

Former champions in draw

Victoria Azarenka [3], Sloane Stephens (1)

Absentees from 32 seeds

No1 Ash Barty, No4 Barbora Krejcikova, No14 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No34 Camila Osorio

Also withdrawn: Bianca Andreescu, Jaqueline Cristian, Varvara Gracheva, Rebecca Peterson, Andrea Petkovic

Potential quarter-finals if seedings hold

First quarter

Aryna Sabalenka vs Karolina Pliskova

Also here, Emma Raducanu, Elina Svitolina, Simona Halep

Second quarter

Anett Kontaveit vs Ons Jabeur

Also here, Danielle Collins, Angelique Kerber, Leylah Fernandez, Naomi Osaka (unseeded)

Third quarter

Paula Badosa vs Maria Sakkari

Also here, Victoria Azarenka, Jessica Pegula, Sloane Stephens (unseeded), Sofia Kenin (unseeded)
Fourth quarter

Iga Swiatek vs Garbiñe Muguruza

Also here, Jelena Ostapenko, Coco Gauff, Petra Kvitova, Kudermetova, Clara Tauson (unseeded)

Men’s draw facts and figures

2022 winners on outdoor hard courts

ATP Cup: Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov

Adelaide 1: Gael Monfils

Melbourne Summer Set: Rafael Nadal

Sydney Classic: Aslan Karatsev

Adelaide 2: Thanasi Kokkinakis

Australian Open: Rafael Nadal

Pune: Joao Sousa

Doha: Roberto Bautista Agut

Delray Beach: Cameron Norrie

Dubai: Andrey Rublev

Acapulco: Rafael Nadal

Indian Wells: Taylor Fritz

Former champions in draw

Hubert Hurkacz (1), John Isner (1), Andy Murray (2)

Absentees from 32 seeds

No1 Novak Djokovic, No3 Rafael Nadal, No26 Roger Federer

Also withdrawn: Pablo Andujar, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori, James Duckworth, Alex Molcan, Ilya Ivashka, Filip Krajinovic

Potential quarter-finals if seedings hold

First quarter

Daniil Medvedev vs Hubert Hurkacz

Also here, Denis Shapovalov, Roberto Bautista Agut, Andy Murray (unseeded), Jenson Brooksby (unseeded)

Second quarter

Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Felix Auger-Aliassime

Also here, Taylor Fritz, Carlos Alcaraz, Marin Cilic, Alex de Minaur, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (unseeded)

Third quarter

Andrey Rublev vs Matteo Berrettini

Also here, Jannik Sinner, Reilly Opelka Gael Monfils, Nick Kyrgios (unseeded)

Fourth quarter

Casper Ruud vs Alexander Zverev

Also here, Grigor Dimitrov, Diego Schwartzman, Cameron Norrie, John Isner

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