Stephen’s Successful Season So Far
Sloane Stephen’s went into last July without ever getting past a WTA semifinal. She comes into her second round match, after receiving a first round bye, with three WTA titles under her name. Two of her trophies have come in 2016, in Auckland and in Monterrey. The world number 22 has yet to lose more than one match this year with 11 wins. Not only did she win 2 titles in 3 tournaments, but the Florida native was a part of the USA Fed Cup team who swept Poland in Hawaii last month. The American’s ball striking has seen her defeat players such as Caroline Wozniacki and Dominika Cibulkova this year.
Although she has gathered many ranking points in the first couple months of the season, these two weeks in Indian Wells and Miami she is defending 4th round and quarterfinal points from last year. Two-thousand points will be available throughout and if Stephens hopes to regain her top 15 ranking, deep runs in these two big tournaments will prove pivotal.
Bouchard Regains Footing
Eugenie Bouchard had her sophomore slump season in 2015, after reaching two grand slam semifinals and the Wimbledon final in 2014. But recently, signs of old Bouchard have shown through. The Canadian has reached two WTA finals thus far in 2016, one in Hobart and one last week in Kuala Lumpur. That being said, her streaky play is causing her matches to be unpredictable. One week she is beating 50 players no problem and the next week she is dropping sets, and even matches, to players outside of the top 100.
The Montreal native’s first round match was tougher than expected. Bouchard prevailed in the end, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, but her opponent, Risa Ozaki, had to qualify for the tournament and currently holds a ranking outside the top 100. The 2014 Wimbledon finalists could not find a way to break Ozaki in the first set, but the match eventually had 11 breaks of service. Bouchard only edged the Japanese qualifier by 4 points. The Canadian’s inability to stay steady on serve will be a factor in her second round match.
Battle Of The 22 Year-olds
Both Stephens and Bouchard have been coached by Nick Saviano. Eugenie Bouchard split with Saviano at the end of her dream 2014 season. Shortly after, at the start of 2015, Saviano began working with Stephens. The current American number 3 ended her partnership with Saviano at the end of her streaky season in 2015. They both have many more things in common such as their age, their large fan bases, their sometimes streaky play, as well as living only 30 minutes away from each other.
Sloane Stephens and Eugenie Bouchard have played three previous times. The American leads Bouchard 2 to 1 in their head-to-head. Although, their most recent match was played 3 years ago. The match should be expected for points dictated by powerful forehands to the corners from both players. The serve will play a role in the match as well with Bouchard needing to be steady on serve if she wants a chance to upset the 21st seeded Stephens.
Prediction: Sloane Stephens in straight sets.