Garbine Muguruza remained the odd woman out at the Miami Open, with the Spaniard failing to join a pair of fellow former No. 1 players in the third round.
Dane Caroline Wozniacki and three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber both succeeded.
Woz beat Aliaksandre Sasnovich of Belarus 6-4, 6-4, while Germany’s Kerber put out Czech Karolina Muchova with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 fightback.
No. 17 Muguruza suffered her sixth loss of the season, going down to Monica Niculescu 7-6(0), 4-6, 6-2.
Wozniacki, who twice hit the top WTA ranking, was pleased with her winning effort.
“I just fought well, I didn’t play particularly well today,” she said. “I just kept fighting.
“There were games when I felt like I played fine, pretty good, then there were games where I said, What am I doing?
“It was a constant battle of just trying to win. Sometimes you just need to fight through.”
There was up upset success for surprise Acapulco champion Wang Yafan as the Chinese player knocked out sixth seed Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-4.
“I’m really excited, I didn’t think too much about this match, win or lose. I just tried to enjoy and play my best tennis,” Wang said.
“I know she’s Top 10, so for me, there was nothing to lose. I didn’t think before I could play like this, the start to this year.”
Second seed No.2 seed Simona Halep notched a 6-1, 6-3 defeat of American Taylor Townsend to reach the third round in little more than an hour.
The winner saved four break points in the opening set and broke twice in the second on the way to the win.
“This was my best match so far. I feel more confident. I feel the game here. I think today I just liked how she played against me,” Halep said.
Switzerland’s Dubai champion Belinda Bencic was defeated by Yulia Putintseva 6-3, 7-5.
Maria Sharapova has injected a dose of reality into her injury comeback scenario, with the former No. 1 unable to guarantee that she will be back in time for next’ month’s WTA event in Stuttgart.
The five-time Grand Slam winner wrote in an Instagram chat session that her return date is still not quite certain:
“Doing my best to be ready for it”, she wrote. “But it might be too soon.”
Should Stuttgart with its April 22 start not pan out, the next try could come in Madrid or Rome, the major run-up events on clay prior to the May 26 start of Roland Garros.
The 31-year-old has not competed since late January in St Petersburg after struggling to an Australian open fourth-round showing and a loss to Ash Barty.
She has since undergone a minor surgical procedure on a long-running right shoulder injury.
That intervention caused her to miss both of this month’s big outings at Indian Wells and Miami,
Should she be fit, the three-time winner will receive a wild card into Stuttgart.
Naomi Osaka managed to come through momentum shift with a 14-ace win into the third round of the Miami Open on Friday.
Osaka’s most aces in a match was 15, which she achieved at Hobart in 2016 followed by a similar performance at the Australian OPen a week later.
The No. 1 bounced back in ragged fashion after her fourth-round defeat last week at Indian Wells against Belinda Bencic.
The WTA’s top player beat Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-0, 6-7(3), 6-1 as she fired 14 aces to finally prevail over the Belgian with 15 winners.
Osaka started out strong as she won the 22-minute opening set to lvoe but was unable to finish off a straight-sets victory.
Wickmayer found a way to hang in during the second, taking it in a decider before Osaka regained control to run out the winner.
Former No. 12 Wicklmayer is fighting to emerge form a slump over the past year and a half; she won just a handful of contests during that period and claimed zero victories in 2018 at the elite level.
French teen Caroline Garcia denied former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka the chance to strive for a possible fourth Miami Masters title as she put out the three-time champion 6-3, 6-4.
The win took 96 minutes and gives the 19-year-old Garcia a 2-0 record over double Australian Open winner Azarenka.
“Maybe she’s not playing as she was when she was No.1, but she’s a great player,” Garcia said. “I have to play my best, and that’s what I’m trying to do when I play against her.
“It was a two-set match, but it was really tight, I think. It was just turning around a few points.”
Garcia advanced into the third round with 15 winners and an identical number of unforced errors over the tennis mother of one, who was weighed down by 35 unforced errors and had not played the tournament since 2016 when she won it for a second time prior to giving birth.
Garcia next faces German Julia Goerges, the 15th seed, whom she has beaten in two previous meetings.
“She has a big serve, big forehand especially. It’s a challenge to always play against her, trying to win her serve, trying to always put her serve back. It’s a challenge — and I like it.”
Venus Williams, who won the last of her three titles here 18 years ago, dispatched qualifier Dalila Jakupovic 7-5, 6-3, with the winner coming from a break down three times in the opening set.
The 38-year-old credited a disciplined upbringing for her fighting spirit: “Growing up in my home we weren’t allowed to be weak, so it just wasn’t an option,”
“The only option was to be strong. You had a choice of being strong or being strong, so we were strong.”
Seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams is trying to follow up on an Indian Wells quarter-final showing, and had to work to overcome a serve which refused to function in the early stages.
“I was just trying to get a feel for what her shot selection is like. That’s always really challenging as a new opponent.”
Victory marked the 65th for South Florida-raised Williams at her home event and will pit her against Spain’s Carla Suárez Navarro, whom she has beaten in six of nine matches.
Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu has backed up her title from last weekend with a fast start after a day-long rain delay with repeat win over Irina-Camelia Begu.
Canada’s champion of Romanian heritage defeated an actual Romanian with a 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-2 comeback at the Miami Masters to reach the second round and next faces American Sofia Kenin.
The victory was a mirror of a win the Canadian took over Begu in the Indian Wells first round, where she also dropped the opening set before roaring back to win as she produced the tournament showing of her life.
With dry weather finally allowing play at the event which is trying out a new venue set on a stadium parking, the 18-year-old Andreescu finally got on court after her session on Thursday was washed out.
The newest WTA champion, ranked 24th, staged a major rally to get back into the contest as she trailed a love set and 5-1 against Begu.
The Canadian levelled at a set each through a massive turnaround effort and broke twice in the third set to move ahead after two and a half hours.
“You never know what the day brings. I just tried to stay relaxed, and, today I was ready,” the winner said.
“I didn’t have any problems with the rain delay, I prepared the same way like I did yesterday and like I do every match, but it wasn’t easy.
“I started a bit slow in the first and second set, and then I called my coach. I fought as hard as I could. I’m really proud of myself with how I dealt with everything.”
Andreescu blamed her slow momentum build on “new tournament, new atmosphere, new environment, different court. I guess that took a bit of getting used to.
“Maybe I needed to almost lose to wake up. That’s obviously what happened today. I’m really grateful how I managed.”
The tennis prize money wars will continue at Roland Garros this northern spring, with the clay-court Grand Slam lifting the total player payout by a healthy 8 per cent to EUR 42.6 million ($ 48.3 million)
The aim is to lift the income for first-round losers, a number which will include half of any given field.
To that end, those who exit in their first main draw match will still leave with 10 per cent, a figure which is due to apply over the entirety of the first week of the fortnight.
Qualifiers are not left out, with their paydays pegged for at least a 5 per cent rise.
Men’s and women’s singles champions will earn EUR 2.3 million ($ 2.6 million) down to the EUR 46,000 ($ 52, 200) for first-round losers.
Qualifiers into the main draw will pocket EUR 24,000 ($ 27,200) while first round qualifying losers will still walk out the gates with a handy EUR 7,000 ($ 7,950) for their trouble – an increase of almost 17 per cent.
Mari Osaka got a fleeting taste of what her younger sister Naomi undergoes each week as the sister of the WTA No. 1 played and lost a main draw match at the Miami Masters on Thursday.
22-year-old elder sibling of the Japanese-Haitian family lost to a fellow wild card entry Whitney Osuigwa 6-2, 6-4 in the first Tour-level match of her career for the No. 338.
“It was my first time playing at a tournament like this. I was super excited, it was new for me. I’m super thankful that I actually got it (the wild card).”
Osaka said that the size of the crowds was something completely new for her.
“There were so many people watching. The atmosphere, like, even just walking around the halls here, it’s just completely different.
“I was super nervous. But it was fun. It would be more fun if I had won.”
The big sister said she has been dealing with injuries. “I was fighting some injury with my shoulder (Last October).
“I played two tournaments and took, like, three- or two-month break. This was my first match back,” she said after losing in the first round of tow minor events in January.
“I wasn’t going to miss this tournament, it was a good experience.”
The elder sister had some words of praise for her younger sibling, who has won the last two Grand Slams and taken over the top WTA position.
“The one word that comes to my mind is, like, ‘amazing.’ It’s almost our dreams coming true that we have been working for our whole life. I’m really proud of her.
Aussie veteran Sam Stosur progressed to the second round of the Miami Open after a first-up win over Russian Evgeniya Rodina.
Stosur hit five aces to triumph 6-4 6-2 over Rodina in just over 90 minutes.
She will face American Madison Keys in the second round, with the victor likely to face another Aussie – Ash Barty.
Stosur admitted she it would be a challenge against Keys, having not played her since 2013.
“We’ve both got a bit more experience than back then, she was pretty young when I played her last time,” the 34-year-old Stosur said.
“She has a big game, big serve, big forehand.”
Australian Ajla Tomljanovic’s match against Anna-Lena Friedsam was washed out as rain continued to cause problems for event organisers, after the German won the first set 6-4.