WTA Miami: Sloane Stephens slides past Garbine Muguruza

In a battle between two Grand Slam champions, it was the American who played by far the best tennis to reach only her second WTA quarterfinal since her US Open victory.

Sloane Stephens
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Garbine Muguruza

Current US Open champion Sloane Stephens picked up one of the biggest wins of her career on Monday afternoon, with the American defeating reigning Wimbledon champion and 3rd seed Garbiñe Muguruza at the Miami Open.

After suffering several losses following her triumph at the US Open last September, the American, seeded 13th in Miami, has picked up a few wins recently and continued her resurgence in form against the Spaniard, who struggled to math Stephens’ level throughout the encounter. The 13th seed eventually prevailed in straight sets, winning 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 28 minutes to reach the last eight.

Stephens in action during the fourth round encounter on day eight of the Miami Open (Getty Images North America/Matthew Stockman)
Stephens in action during the fourth round encounter on day eight of the Miami Open (Getty Images North America/Matthew Stockman)

Stephens controls match after edgy start

It was Muguruza who had won the only previous meeting between the two, conceding just two games in Beijing back in 2015, though the Spaniard was never good enough today to take control of the encounter, and she was made to pay for it.

It was the 13th seed who got off to the best start, breaking Muguruza for an early 2-0 lead, though a rocky patch for both women saw three consecutive service breaks after this, with the Spaniard levelling up the opening set at 3-3 with her first service hold of the match. However, despite a wobble, Stephens remained unfazed by her opponent, a two-time major champion, and took advantage of some errors from her opponent to take a 5-3 lead. The US Open champion was comfortable when serving for the set, taking it in just 33 minutes.

Stephens and Muguruza meet at the net following the match (Getty/Matthew Stockman)
Stephens and Muguruza meet at the net following the match (Getty Images North America/Matthew Stockman)

The opening stages of the second set were fairly even, though once again it was the American, on home soil, who drew first blood, breaking the third seed for a 3-2 lead to put herself in control of the match. Muguruza, who was not at her best, was able to even things back up straight away, though some costly errors meant that the American broke again. Stephens consolidated this time to hold a 5-3 lead, and though Muguruza was able to force the 13th seed to serve out the match, Stephens converted her third match point at 5-4 to reach her second Miami Open quarterfinal.

Though there were one or two shaky moments, it was overall an impressive performance from Stephens, who is now looking close to her best following a lengthy losing streak following her maiden Grand Slam victory. Things do not get any easier for her in the last eight, with tenth seed and two-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber being her opponent; it will be the fifth meeting between the two, with Stephens having won the past three times they have met.