American Sloane Stephens reached the Miami Open finals with a thrilling three-set victory over Victoria Azarenka on Thursday.
Playing just miles from where she grew up, Stephens has put together her best performance since her U.S. Open title last year. She fought back from 3-6, 0-2 down to Azarenka to book her spot in the final, beating the two-time Miami champion 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
It’s Stephens’ second victory over Azarenka in the last three weeks, having also done so in Indian Wells.
“I knew I was going to have to fight regardless of what happened last week,” said Stephens. “It’s someone I have lost three times before prior to last week. So I had to fight, and I had to play some of my best tennis today.”
In all, Stephens thumped 24 winners and won 12 of the final 13 games to storm past Azarenka and into the final.
“Growing up in South Florida,” Stephens added. “This is so incredible to be in the final.”
She will take on Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko for the title. The sixth-seeded Ostapenko ended the run of American qualifier Danielle Collins on Thursday night with a 7-6(1), 6-3 victory.
The men’s semifinals will take place on Friday. Fourth-seeded German Alexander Zverev will face off against Pablo Carreno Busta, the 16th seeded Spaniard, while Juan Martin del Potro continues his pursuit for the Sunshine Double as he plays 14th seeded American John Isner.