Serena Williams handed tough Miami opener as Johanna Konta prepares to defend title

Serena Williams has been handed a fascinating first-round tie with Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka in what has proven to be an incredibly tough Miami Open draw for the 23-time Grand Slam winner, while Johanna Konta has learnt her fate as she looks to defend her crown.

The American – who has won the tournament on eight separate occasions – will take on the 20-year-old just days after the biggest success of her young career to date, with Osaka in red hot form.

Osaka beat Maria Sharapova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep en route to the final of Indian Wells, before wrapping up her first WTA title in style with a crushing win over Daria Kasatkina.

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Projected quarter-finals (by seeding)

Halep v Pliskova
Muguruza v Garcia
Ostapenko v Svitolina
V. Williams v Wozniacki

After beating Sharapova, she claimed that she had just one player left who she was desperate to play, and she’s been granted her wish in the first round of Miami.

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‘There’s basically three people I wanted to play: It was Venus, her, and Serena,’ she said.

‘I ticked two people off so now I just have to play Serena and I’m really looking forward to that.’

Things won’t get much easier after their first-round match, with fourth seed Elina Svitolina awaiting the winner.

Past Miami Open champions

2009: Azarenka
2010: Clijsters
2011: Azarenka
2012: Radwanska
2013: S. Williams
2014: S. Williams
2015: S. Williams
2016: Azarenka
2017: Konta

Defending champion Konta, meanwhile, is on course for a fourth round meeting with Venus Williams and she sits in the same quarter as Caroline Wozniacki.

World No. 1 Halep is due to meet Pliskova in the last-eight, while Caroline Garcia is in the same section as Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza.

Three-time champion Victoria Azarenka will take on CiCi Bellis in her opening round, with a mouthwatering tie with Madison Keys on the cards, should she advance.

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