Stephens Routs Kerber to Reach Miami Open Semis and Top Ten
(March 27, 2018) MIAMI – U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens defeated two-time major winner Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-2 to reach the semifinals of the Miami Open on Tuesday. This will be the first time Stephens has made the final four of a WTA Tour Premier Mandatory event. Her run in Miami will place her in the Top Ten for the first time.
“Finally,” said the 25-year-old American. “I’m so tired of them being, like, career-high ranking, No. 11. Like, finally I can move in there. That’s really exciting.”
“It’s awesome. Obviously something I have wanted to do for a while, and I think it’s just — it’s not easy. It’s really not easy. Getting to 11 was hard, and so getting into the top 10 is pretty special. I’m super excited about that. Something I have worked hard for for a long time. I couldn’t really be any happier.”
Stephens will be taking on Victoria Azarenka, who dismissed fifth seed Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-3.
“On her potential opponent, Stephens said: “Once you get to a semifinal or quarterfinal, you’re playing someone who is playing good tennis. You’ve just got to go out and play your game and execute like you would any other match, because you’re not going to be given the match. You’re going to have to go out and really play your game.
“Either way, either person I play, I’m looking forward to it.”
“Every match is big match for me, no matter what stage,” Azarenka said to media. I think it’s more important probably for the public, you know, but for me, every match is important right now.
“I played Sloane in Indian Wells, and I think it’s going to be a little bit of a different story here, I hope, because I didn’t play well there (smiling).
“But she’s been showing really good tennis here, and I want to continue to focus on myself and try to progress as well as I have been doing so far this tournament, but I definitely need to play better than the last time.”
“But I’m always taking one match at a time,” the Belarusian added.
“I think it’s important to have this mindset for me. And as much as people think it’s close, I know how far it is. Until the last point is done when you win, it’s never easy.
“So I want to focus on one match at a time, one point at a time, and we’ll see what happens.”
American John Isner knocked out No. 2 seed Marin Cilic 7-6 (0), 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals on Tuesday. Isner’s run will make him the top-ranked male from the US on the ATP World Tour.
“I was in a very good serving rhythm today,” said Isner. “I felt that really from my opening serve the whole match that I knew it was going to be a good serving day.
“I just was in a good rhythm and served much better than I did in my first two matches. I mean, percentage and aces and no double faults today. When I serve like that, I’m certainly tough to beat.”
Isner will play 19th seed Hyeon Chung next. Chung beat Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-3.
With Cilic gone, Alexander Zverev, the fourth seed, remains the highest seed left in the draw. Roger Federer and Grigor Dimitrov lost early in the tournament.
No. 6 seed Juan Martin del Potro moves on. Last week’s Indian Wells champion won 6-4, 6-2, winning 11 of the last 13 games over Filip Krajinovic. Del Potro will play Milos Raonic for a spot in the semifinals.
“I think will be a different match than the Indian Wells, because we have different conditions,” said the Argentine who beat Raonic in the semifinals two weeks ago. “Milos, he’s improving his game every day, and he’s playing very solid in this tournament and I think he has the potential to win the tournament, as well. It will be an interesting match to see how I feel and how my level is.”
In a day match from Monday that lasted into the late night, early morning, Frances Tiafoe defeated Tomas Berdych in three sets, came back two hours later and lost to Kevin Anderson. Anderson won 7-6(3), 6-4. He’ll play Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarterfinals.
In a thrilling ATP “NextGen” match, Borna Coric defeated Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4.
Coric will play fourth seed Alexander Zverev who defeated 17th seed Nick Kyrgios 6-4, 6-4.