When Sloane Stephens is healthy, every little thing she does is magic

by Leon Thompson March 31, 2018, 8:39
When Sloane Stephens is healthy, every little thing she does is magic

Women (semifinals): Sloane Stephens bt Victoria Azarenka 3-6, 6-2, 6-1; Jelena Ostapenko bt Danielle Collins 7-6 (1), 6-3.

"This is so cool!"

"When David came on the court he was telling me to keep playing aggressive, to go for the shots", Ostapenko said during her on-court interview.

"For me this is so incredible to have friends and family here". John Isner moved one step closer to the biggest title of his 14-year career by beating a tired Juan Martin del Potro 6-1, 7-6 (2) in the semifinals of the Miami Open. Stephens has rediscovered that balance of aggression and defense-lots of running with just enough shotmaking sprinkled in-that, at its best, can leave virtually any of her opponents in the dust. Stephens set to break into top 10 Thursday's last-four match was the second time world number 12 Stephens has defeated Belarusian wildcard Azarenka this month, having won in straight sets in the second round at Indian Wells.

Her hitting, especially from the back of the court, was of the highest order and now she takes on Ostapenko full of confidence and ready to reach her first big tournament final.

"I have put in the hard work my whole life, so at the end of the day, I know I have done literally everything I can do to put myself in the best situation", said Collins. As she showed against Venus Williams, Collins rarely looked affected by the score or the circumstances.

And so 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia will meet another reigning Grand Slam champ, US Open titleholder Sloane Stephens, in a rather unexpected Miami Open final Saturday.

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The momentum of the match had completely changed, Stephens romping 4-0 ahead in the decider, where it was Azarenka's turn to look despondent.

"I come to play in the tournament without any expectations", she added.

"The wind wasn't too bad but I am trying to be more consistent".

The 13th seed hit back with a break of her own before surviving a fifth game that lasted nearly 10 minutes, and she was back on level terms as a sensational cross-court forehand victor on the run set her up for a second break. "And when I had a chance, I was going for it".

There could, however, be no sterner test for the 24 year-old than veteran Williams, who had fought her own battles to reach this stage, saving three match points in a marathon three-setter against Kiki Bertens in the round of 32.

A break for 6-5 in the first set gave her the opportunity to serve it out but it wasn't taken allowing Ostapenko to force a tie-break which she dominated 7-1. "So that was just, you know, of course one of those days".

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