Bellis vs. Azarenka
|Date & Time||Tuesday March 20, 2018, 11:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: -- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream live sports and ESPN originals on-demand on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
Victoria Azarenka and CiCi Bellis meet in the first round of the 2018 Miami Masters.
Victoria Azarenka is coming off a second round exit in the Indian Wells Masters and has just two matches under her belt this season. Azarenka missed a lot of time due to her pregnancy, and she missed even more tournaments due to an ongoing custody battle. Of course, we know what Azarenka is when she’s in good form and playing consistently, but she has played just eight matches since the 2016 French Open. In her last match, Azarenka won just 38 percent of her return points and 59 percent of her first serve points. Like Serena Williams, there’s a lot of questions with Azarenka that need answers before seriously backing her this season. Azarenka has won 12 of her last 13 matches on hard court.
CiCi Bellis is off to a shaky 7-6 start to the season and also was bounced in the second round of Indian Wells, losing to Elena Vesnina in three sets. Inconsistent play has always been an issue for Bellis, but she’s only 18 years old, so it’s expected at her age. The good news is that Bellis has shown she can compete with anybody on tour when she’s feeling good and hitting the ball with confidence. Bellis did just make a quarterfinal run in Doha, which included her third career win over a top-10 player in Karolina Pliskova. It really comes down to which Bellis is going to show up this week. Bellis has won seven of her last 10 matches on hard court.
These two have played once, which was in the 2017 Wimbledon, a match Azarenka won in three sets. The match took 24 games to be decided. This will obviously be their first meeting on hard court.
Like Serena, it’s really tough to get a feel for Azarenka without seeing her play much. She has just eight matches under her belt in two years. Bellis is capable of getting the win here and can surprise at times, but her hit and miss record over the years and quick exits make her hard to trust as well. I’m going to back Azarenka, as she’s been itching to play for quite some time and would have been on the court sooner and more consistently if it weren’t for personal issues. A motivated Azarenka is scary for everybody.
I like Azarenka to sneak out a competitive victory.