(March 26, 2018) MIAMI – In her biggest victory since winning the 2017 US Open, 13th seed Sloane Stephens upset No. 3 Garbine Muguruza from Spain, 6-3, 6-4 at the Miami Open on Monday to reach the quarterfinals.
After winning the US Open, Stephens lost eight straight matches. She said that she got herself together since the Australian Open.
“After winning a Grand Slam, it’s not easy to come back right out and keep playing,” Stephens said to media. “I was so excited after winning the U.S. Open, I was living my life to the fullest. Now I’m back to my day job. It’s a little bit difficult. It takes a little bit of confidence and a lot of hard work.”
“Obviously it’s a great win,” said the American about her win over Muguruza. “But, I mean, it’s matches like the one before when I played Niculescu where you’ve got to really battle and fight and play someone who is not going to just play you up and down and you’ve got to do a lot just to stay in the points, I think those matches give you confidence to beat a player like this because you have to do a lot of work just to stay in the match.
“I thought I did an excellent job the other night just kind of staying in there. I lost the first set and I could have easily got down on myself and kind of just gave it away, but I was pleased that I was able to fight.
“Obviously, like you said, I haven’t played that many matches this year, so being able to stay in matches and fight like that I think is a good step in the right direction.”
“I missed too many shots, a couple of mistakes I shouldn’t have done in important moments,” said Muguruza. “My serve in general could be better. It was not a big difference, but in the end a few details went to her side.”
Stephens will face another major champion for a place in the final four – two time major winner Angelique Kerber who played an almost three-hours in her win over Yufan Wang 6-7(1), 7-6(5), 6-3.
“It was not so easy to find my game,” admitted Kerber. “But also, I never played against her. I had no idea what to expect.
“But, yeah, I just knew that she played good here the last few days and also few weeks. But for me it was not so easy, and I was just trying to fighting. I think that was the key for me, that I was really fighting for every single ball, also especially in the second set in the tiebreak when it was, I think, 5-All or something.
“So I think it was just one, two points which decide the match.”
Also reaching the quarterfinals, Venus Williams, who knocked out defending champion Johanna Konta 5-7, 6-1, 6-2. It was her 64-match win in Miami.
Konta said that she appreciates Williams’s drive. “I think you have always got to appreciate when players fight through matches. She’s not alone in there. There is a lot of great players out there who do that in successive matches and on a regular basis.
“Obviously I think it’s inspirational to see for how long she’s been playing and how much she’s still obviously hungry to be out there and to compete.
“So yeah. But I think the quality of not giving in and not giving up and then continuing to go is a quality that most of the players on tour possess.”
Three-time champion Victoria Azarenka, defeated 2012 champ Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-2.
“I played my game, and I was doing what was working,” noted Azarenka. “I was aggressive, I was using my opportunities to step up, and I put pressure.
“So I’m pretty happy that I was able to play consistent throughout the whole match.”
Azarenka will face-off against the No. 5 Karolina Pliskova in the next round.
Qualifer Danielle Collins is also in the quarterfinals. She defeated Olympic Gold Medalist Monica Puig in three sets 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
In the late night match which was interrupted by rain twice, French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko beat Petra Kbitova 7-6(4), 6-3. She’ll battle for a spot int he semifinals against Elina Svitolina.
#MiamiOpen WTA QF:
??Azarenka v  Pliskova ??
?? Stephens v  Kerber ??
?? Ostapenko v  Svitolina ??
?? Williams v [Q] Collins ??
— TennisNow (@Tennis_Now) March 27, 2018
On the men’s side of the tournament on Monday, fourth seed Alexander Zverev outlasted 35-year-old veteran David Ferrer 2-6, 6-2, 6-4. Sixth seed Kevin Anderson moved on to the round of 16 with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 win over 32nd seed Karen Khachanov.
In a tale of two Australians – 17th seed Nick Kygrios made easy work of 15th seed Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-3, while Thanasi Kokkinakis failed to backup his win over Roger Federer, losing to 31st Fernando Verdasco 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(4).
Kyrgios will have to play Alexander Zverev next.
“Yeah, it will be a lot of fun,” said Kyrgios. “I’m sure we’re both going to look forward to it. He’s a great player. I mean, they are both great players. David certainly knows how to win a match.
“You know, I don’t really care who I play. At the moment I’m not even thinking tactically or anything like that. I’m just trying to get through these matches without, you know, being in pain, pretty much, just going out there and competing and being healthy. That’s my main focus at the moment.”
Also advancing were 16th seed Pablo Carrrenos Busta,, 29th seed Borna Coric in three sets over 8th seed Jack Sock and Denis Shapovalov kncocked out 11th seed Sam Querrey.
The last match of the evening on Grandstand featured Tomas Berdych versus Frances Tiafoe which was called at 2:13 AM on Tuesday morning due to a third rain delay with Tiafoe leading 6-7(2), 6-2, 5-4*. The match will resume on Tuesday afternoon.
More to follow…