In the standout match on Thursday at the Miami Open, Sloane Stephens will face 2016 champion Victoria Azarenka for a spot in the final. After a suspect return at Indian Wells, Azarenka has been in top form this fortnight and has to be considered the title favourite at this stage.
Check out the Azarenka vs Stephens H2H
Azarenka was outstanding on return in the previous round breaking the big serve of Karolina Pliskova seven times in her 7-5 6-3 win. However, her serving vulnerability was still on show throughout and almost cost her the first set from 5-2 up. “I thought that in those conditions that I adjusted really well. I had to adjust. I had to be a little bit, give a little bit of a bigger margin than maybe I usually do. I felt that I was returning really well today, reading her serve better than the match before. I had a little bit more trouble the last time we played by reading her serve.” Azarenka said afterwards.
Stephens backed up her big win over Garbine Muguruza with a dominant 6-1 6-2 win against Angelique Kerber to make it to the last four. She has found her groove again back on home turf after struggling overseas, where she has a 9 match losing streak outside of North America. The win puts her in the top 10 for the first time in her career. “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.”
Azarenka was poor in her last outing against Stephens at Indian Wells, losing 6-1 7-5 to the American. “I hope I will play better. I just want to continue to focus on my game one point at a time, I think that’s been working well this week, and continue to enjoy it.” she said in regards to that match. The former No.1 being back on court is a great thing for the game, especially if she continues to improve from here.
Prediction – Victoria Azarenka in three sets