Miami | Stephens shocks Kerber
US Open champion Sloane Stephens is finally living up to her status as a Grand Slam champion after emphatically beating Germany’s double grand slam champion Angelique Kerber to reach the semi-finals of the Miami Open which should elevate her world ranking into the top ten.
I am so tired of hearing that I am number 11 in the worldSloane Stephens
She defeated Kerber 6-1 6-2 to set up a last-four meeting with a revived former world number one and double grand slam champion, Victoria Azarenka who dispatched Karolina Pliskova 7-5 6-3.
“I am so tired of hearing that I am number 11 in the world,” a smiling Stephens said after her win and in the knowledge that she will be ranked in the top ten when the new listings are announced next week.
“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.”
Apropos the match itself, she added: “The wind is uncomfortable for both of us. But it can help push you outside of your comfort zone. You just have to embrace it. You have to execute your game well and make sure you stick with it.”
Kerber was disappointed with her performance but admitted she was tired after a gruelling last 16 match the previous day.
“It’s easy to start doing other things so I just need to keep to my plan and make sure I didn’t venture off.” Kerber said. “I was really feeling a little bit tired today. It was windy, it was tricky, but I’ve played so many matches in the last three months that I was feeling it a little bit in my body.”
Azarenka, meanwhile, is enjoying her best tournament run since returning to the tour after an acrimonious court battle with the father over their child and provides her with the opportunity to avenge the defeat she suffered to Stephens in Indian Wells a few weeks ago.
Ranked 186, Azarenka entered the event on a wild card but she should see that improve and return her into the top 100 next week.
“It wasn’t easy with the conditions but I had to fight it out and adjust my game a bit, ” Azarenka said on court afterwards. “I am so happy to be back playing and at this stage of my career I just want to progress.
“I need to play better than the last time I played Sloane. I will need to cut out the errors and play my best tennis.”