Defending Champ Stephens Out Of Miami; Venus Wins, Will Meet Halep Today
by Staff | March 25th, 2019, 10:07 am
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The upsets at the Miami Open continued on Sunday with the ousting of defending champion Sloane Stephens who fell in the evening to mother Tatjana Maria 6-3, 6-2. It was one of the German’s biggest career wins.

“I could not be happier right now,” Maria told the crowd. “I think I played at home, because I live here. It was helping me a lot. My family, everybody’s here, my friends and I think it helps.

“My game is pretty special, so I knew that tonight I had a chance. I played two times against Sloane, so I knew what to expect.”

Stephens, who won the title a year ago over Jelena Ostapenko, finishes the first quarter of the season just 6-6. She became the 6th Top 10 seed already out of the event.

“I just played a bad match and she played well, and that’s never a good combo,” said Stephens.

“She’s a great player, she plays with a lot of variations and she’s a tricky opponent. She just played the better match today.

“I’m looking forward to getting back on the clay, my favorite surface. Hopefully, I can get some momentum and try to play some good tennis in the clay court season.”

Maria will meet the rising Czech lefty Marketa Vondrousova today in the fourth round. Vondousova eliminated Belgian No. 16 seed Elise Mertens 6-4, 7-6(1).

Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep were also in trouble, but both survived. Pliskova edged Alize Cornet 6-7(3), 6-1, 6-4 while Halep outlasted Polona Hercog in a marathon 5-7, 7-6(1), 6-2 in two hours, 49 minutes.

“It was not easy at all,” Halep said after her first win over Hercog. “I think the level was very, very high. [Hercog] played unbelievable. If she keeps playing like this, she can be Top 20 easy. I think it was a great match for both of us. I’m really happy I could win it in the end. It was a lot of effort today.”

The lone former champion, Venus Williams, went down a break early but then rolled Daria Kasatkina 6-3, 6-1.

“I think in a lot of the matches we played before, she was just on top of her game, couldn’t miss. I think today I was just able to control the points. I got a few more errors,” the 38-year-old Williams said.

“I’m always at my best when I’m playing aggressive. I just got to execute that today.”

Venus will now meet Halep today in the best match of the schedule. The pair have split their six meetings with Halep taking the last three.

“She always plays flawless tennis against me, so I have to be ready for that,” Venus said.

“Every match is a different match, opportunity to play better and to learn. I know each point will be an opportunity for me to play better and learn. That’s how I look at it. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Yulia Putintseva and Yafan Wang also upset seeds, Anastasija Sevastova and Danille Collins, respectively.

Also on today’s full fourth round ticket, Petra Kvitova meets Caroline Garica and the red-hot Bianco Andreescu collides with Anett Kontaveit.

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