Stephens, Muchova Wednesday Winners In Miami, Osaka Collided With Kerber

by Staff | March 24th, 2022, 12:01 am
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Former champion Sloane Stephens won her Miami Masters opener topping Panna Udvardy of Hungary 6-4, 6-3. Stephens, who won the 2018 title over Jelena Ostapenko, had to battle from a break deficit in both sets.

“She’s a great competitor, obviously,” Stephens said. “It was a tough match, but I was happy to fight through and stick to my game plan and be able to execute.

“It’s always a special tournament for me, I’ve always played well here, I love playing here, coming back here. So it’s nice to get a win, especially in front of friends and family, and hopefully I get some more soon.”

The 29-year-old Stephens moves on to face countrywoman Jessica Pegula.

Following months off tour due to a foot injury, former Australian Open semifinalist Karolina Muchova made her return today and ousted Tereza Martincova 7-6(3), 7-6(3). The 25-year-old Muchova was playing in her first match since the US Open due to an ab injury.

She’ll return tomorrow to meet US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez.

Naomi Osaka also made a winning start to her Miami campaign besting Astra Sharma 6-3, 6-4. Osaka fell in Indian Wells amid a fan heckling her.

“I didn’t want to let anything bother me, no matter what happened,” Osaka said. “The last match I played was not the greatest memory for me. I wanted to prove that I could come back out here and compete, and no matter if I won or lost, to just know that I had the best attitude I could.”

Osaka is back on court tomorrow in a collision with Angelique Kerber. The two former No. 1s will meet for a sixth time with the German ahead 4-1.

Other winners were Alison Riske, Vera Zvonareva and rising Czech 16-year-old Linda Fruhvirtova.

The seeds open play Thursday with Aryna Sabalenka, Emma Raducanu, Simona Halep, Anett Kontaveit and Belinda Bencic among those in action along with Kerber-Osaka and Fernandez-Muchova.

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