Halep and Kuznetsova hit practice (video)

MIAMI, Fla. –  From the looks of things on Wednesday, you would probably want world No. 1 Simona Halep as your permanent practice partner.

Because during her time on court with Svetlana Kuznetsova, feeding volleys and overheads, she just didn’t miss.

When that happens, you get some pretty good cardio on the other side in addition to honing your strokes.

Kuznetsova (no slouch herself), followed up the long volley exchanges (one of which is seen below) straight to the overheads. She got her workout.

Halep, after a first-round bye, opens her Miami Open campaign against lucky loser Océane Dodin.

Dodin, who has been dealing with vertigo for more than a  year, has been in and out of the scene. She lost in the first round of the Australian Open to Genie Bouchard.

The luckiest loser

Dodin was the No. 7 seed in qualifying. The top three seeds made it through, and seeds No. 4 through No. 6 lost in the first round.

But whether she knew for sure sure she was getting into the main draw as a lucky loser, the Frenchwoman retired after the first set of her second and final round of qualifying to American Alison Riske Tuesday. The reason was an ankle injury. She lost that set 6-1.

Dodin only lasted a set in her final-round qualifying match because of an ankle injury. But she had a miraculous recovery overnight and won a marathon first-round match against Cepede Royg. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Then – a miraculous recovery.

Dodin managed to defeat Veronica Cepede Royg of Paraguay 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-3 Wednesday in the first round of the main draw – two hours and 12 minutes, it took – to advance to the meeting with Halep.

(You really shouldn’t retire in the qualifying and then be allowed to play in the main draw. But that’s a debate for another day).

As for Kuznetsova, the 32-year-old Russian only began her 2018 season last week at Indian Wells after left wrist surgery in the offseason. She lost her first match there to Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Seeded No. 18 in Miami, her first opponent will be Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.


Azarenka, Kuznetsova missing from AO lists; Serena on

The preliminary lists are complete for next month’s Australian Open, after the deadline for entry passed Monday.

And the good news is that Serena Williams is on the women’s singles entry list.

The inevitable withdrawals are still to come. But already, some notable names are missing on the women’s side.

Victoria Azarenka is first on the MIA list.

The former No. 1, currently ranked No. 210, hasn’t entered with either her true ranking or with the protected ranking she could use to play a second Grand Slam event (she used it at Wimbledon last summer).

Azarenka officially remains in the WTA warmup event in Auckland, NZ, for what that’s worth. And the Australian Open no doubt would give their two-time champion a wild card.

But it’s clear the Belarussian’s ongoing child custody issues back home in California seem not to have a short-term resolution, no matter how positive she has been publicly about an imminent return.

No. 12 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who said last week the Australian swing was likely a no-go because of wrist issues, also is not on the entry list.

China’s Saisai Zheng, ranked No. 94, also is missing.

Three players entered with protected rankings: Anna-Lena Friedsam (No. 50), Margarita Gasparyan (No. 62) and Kristina Kucova (No. 96).

That puts the initial cutoff at No. 107.

The next player in would be Anna Tatishvili, with a protected ranking of No. 107. American teenager Sofia Kenin and Slovakia’s Jana Cepelova come after that.

In the “good news” department, Bethanie Mattek-Sands entered the singles. With her ranking of No. 123, she would have to play the qualifying, although the American has not yet entered that.

Sara Errani and Switzerland’s Patty Schnyder, who turns 39 next week and hasn’t played the Australian Open since 2011, will play the qualifying.

Everyone in from the ATP top 100

On the men’s side, the initial cutoff is even tougher – right at No. 100.

Chile’s Nicolas Jarry is therefore the last one in on the initial list.

 Andreas Haider Maurer (No. 63), Yoshihito Nishioka (No. 66), John Millman (No. 81) and Ricardas Berankis (No. 93) have used protected rankings to enter.

Every single player currently ranked in the top 100 is entered.

Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka (seen here practicing on Rod Laver Arena last January) are both expected to be back in action. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Next in if players withdraw are Gerald Melzer, Rogerio Dutra Silva, Marcos Baghdatis, Nicolas Mahut and a trio of players: Taylor Fritz, Pablo Andujar and James Duckworth. All three are at No. 105; the latter two are protected rankings, which gives Fritz priority.