For the first time since 2013, world No. 1 Serena Williams and American youngster Sloane Stephens will meet on the WTA tour to rekindle their rivalry. Stephen’s ascended to notoriety with her upset victory over Williams at the Australian Open two years ago but still rails her American counterpart 1-2 in the head-to-head series.
The top seed at this year’s Indian Wells event secured her spot in the fourth round of the tournament with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Zarina Diyas in a match that lasted just 53 minutes. It was much different to her first match back in 14 years where she was clearly emotional and struggled en route to victory.
“I was just trying to get there and win my match in the first round,” she said. “I ended up playing a girl who was super tricky, and I was trying to stay focused, plus all the other stuff going on. But yesterday was super relaxing. It was good to have a day off to have a chance to prepare for my next match.
Serena’s third opponent in the American desert will be Sloane Stephens, who is playing some formidable tennis for the first time in a while. She followed up on her upset win over Germany’s Angelique Kerber with a rollercoaster three-set win over Svetlana Kuznetsova. She eventually won the match 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-4 to set up the riveting encounter with Williams.
“I’ve had some tough matches with Sloane,” Williams said. “She’s had an interesting year, but I’ve noticed she’s been playing really well. She moves well and tries to do her best for everything.”
This marks the fourth time that Williams and Stephens will cross paths on the professional tour with Williams leading the series 2-1. The two have not crossed paths in over two years, which will certainly make their upcoming encounter an interesting one. In the end, Williams should still have little trouble closing out this match.
Prediction: Serena Williams in Straight Sets
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