Stephens cracks top 10 with Miami run
MIAMI - Agence France-Presse
American Sloane Stephens had cause for a double celebration March 27 after beating Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-2 to set up a Miami Open semifinal clash with former world number one Victoria Azarenka.
The U.S. 13th seed’s comprehensive triumph in tricky wind conditions over the former world number one ensured Stephens reached the last four at Key Biscayne for the first time.
It also means the reigning U.S. Open champion will finally be named in the world’s top 10 when the WTA releases its rankings next week.
She will meet two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka for a place in March 31’s final after the Belarusian beat fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-3.
“I am so tired of hearing that I am number 11 in the world,” said a smiling Stephens.
“It’s very exciting to get there, something I have wanted to do for a while. Getting into the top 10 is pretty special and something I have worked on for a long time.”
Stephens’ previous best in Miami came with a quarterfinal run in 2015, so the emotions on display at the end of what was an ultimately straightforward win over the world number 10 were understandable.
Since her debut Grand Slam triumph at the U.S. Open last September, the 25-year-old has struggled to follow on. Stephens arrived at Key Biscayne having not beaten a top-50 player since the run at Flushing Meadows.
Azarenka, meanwhile, is enjoying her best tournament run since the birth of her first child in December of 2016 and faces Stephens just three weeks after the pair met in Indian Wells, a match won by the American 6-1, 7-5.