In the longest match of the Friday's program so far at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, a qualifier Monica Niculescu defeated the 20th seed Garbine Muguruza 7-6, 4-6, 6-2 in two hours and 53 minutes! It was not the match of the highest quality, with 37 break points and grueling rallies that took everything from both players, with Niculescu who saved more energy in the decider to propel herself into the third round.
The Romanian suffered eight breaks of serve and that wasn't enough for the struggling Spaniard to seal the deal, getting broken on nine occasions and bowing out much earlier than she expected. The opening set lasted for 75 minutes and it offered an unreal ten breaks, five on each side to stay neck and neck, setting up a tie break that Niculescu won 7-0!
Garbine fought back in set number two with three breaks of serve although that was all we saw from her, falling 5-1 behind in set number three before Monica completed the win with a hold in game eight. The 13th seed Caroline Wozniacki toppled Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 32 minutes in what has been a nightmare encounter for both servers!
Caroline gave serve away six times from as many chances and that wasn't enough for Sasnovich to at least grab a set, dropping 63% of the points behind the initial shot to suffer eight breaks from 12 opportunities she offered to Wozniacki.
The struggling Dane won the opening set thanks to three straight breaks she claimed from 3-2 down, repeating that in set number two to seal the deal and march on without spending more time on the court. The 18th seed Qiang Wang ousted 2017 champion Johanna Konta 6-4, 6-0 while Marketa Vondrousova defeated the 22nd seed Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 6-1, taking a tight opening set and racing towards the finish line after that.
The 8th seed and Indian Wells finalist Angelique Kerber had to stay on the court for more than two hours against a qualifier Karolina Muchova, coming from a set down to prevail 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 and secure the place in the last 32.
The young Czech broke the German's serve four times, thrice in a row in the opener that secured an early lead for her before Kerber bounced back in set number two, winning 16 of the last 19 points for a 6-3 and a chance to bring the match home in the decider.
There, she was still on a roll in the initial games, opening a 3-0 advantage before Muchova pulled the break back in game five, only to lose serve in the following game which gave Kerber the decisive lead that she carried home safely.
More than two decades after she made Miami debut, Venus Williams is still capable of playing on a high level, taking down the 24th seed Carla Suarez Navarro 7-6, 6-1 in an hour and 41 minutes. Venus scored the seventh win over the Spaniard in ten matches and the fifth in a row, repelling six out of eight break points and earning five breaks to move over the top in straight sets.
The opening set lasted for an hour and Venus clinched it 7-4 in the tie break, gaining the momentum and cruising through the second set for the tenth win of the season.