Tennis

Miami Open: Ashleigh Barty faces Bianca Andreescu for first time as top seed bids to defend title

Top seed Ashleigh Barty earned the right to defend her Miami Open title when she faces Bianca Andreescu, who is back in a final following a series of injuries.

Barty eased past Elina Svitolina 6-3 6-3 and into Saturday’s final, while Andreescu saw off Maria Sakkari 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 7-6 (7-4) in a match lasting two hours and 42 minutes.

World No 1 Barty battled a suspected abdominal injury to beat Svitolina for just the second time and move closer to retaining her crown in Florida.

Australia’s Barty has been No 1 since September 2019, and had already held onto top spot in the rankings after Naomi Osaka’s Miami exit earlier this week.

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Andreescu will take on Barty for the first time on Saturday after battling past Greek star Sakkari in a match that ended at 1.35am local time.

The 20-year-old Canadian advanced to her first final since winning the 2019 US Open where she will be seeking her fourth career title after a knee injury at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen caused her to miss the entire 2020 tennis season.

On facing Andreescu, Barty said: “I haven’t played her before, haven’t hit with her. It’s a fresh one for both of us. But she’s proven time and time again that she loves the big matches, loves the big tournaments, and has the game and the physicality to win them.”

She continued: “Bianca has shown in big tournaments that she’s got the ability to beat the very best, and I know from the little that I have seen that she’s got a way of moving around the court that’s extremely physical.

“She’s got great hands and she’s got options off both sides. She’s got a chisel off both sides and has the ability to flip the ball up or hit through the court. I think that’s what makes her game exceptionally challenging is that she has so many different assets and so many different things that she can go to to ultimately let her competitor in her figure it out.”

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The men’s draw is guaranteed a first-time ATP Masters 1000 champion on Sunday with Roberto Bautista Agut facing Italian teenager Jannik Sinner in the first semi-final on Friday, while Andrey Rublev goes up against Hubert Hurkacz of Poland.

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