Tennis-Birthday girl Stephens rolls into Miami Open second round

By Thomson Reuters Mar 20, 2024 | 1:54 PM

MIAMI (Reuters) – Sloane Stephens celebrated her birthday in style as she beat Germany’s Angelique Kerber 6-2 6-3 on Wednesday in a one-sided battle between former Grand Slam champions to reach the second round of the Miami Open.

Stephens, a 31-year-old Florida native and the 2018 Miami Open champion, converted four of her eight break point chances against Kerber and dropped serve once in the 70-minute match.

“I came out with a gameplan, I was very clear with that, and I didn’t really deviate from that,” Stephens said during her on-court interview.

“I just tried to play the best I could and give the best effort I could and I’m happy to be through with the win.”

Up next for the 2017 U.S. Open champion, who fell in the third round at Indian Wells last week, will be a clash with Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.

World number 41 Stephens was barely tested in the first set which she wrapped up in style with her second break of the frame, this one coming at love.

Kerber, a three-times Grand Slam winner who returned to the tour in January after an 18-month maternity break, was looking to build on her fourth-round showing at Indian Wells.

She appeared more comfortable early in the second set but was ultimately undone by a rash of errors.

Stephens took advantage and consolidated a break for a 5-2 lead and then went on to serve out the match with a routine hold that she punctuated with a forehand to the open court.

With the win, Stephens improved to 6-2 in head-to-bead meetings with Kerber.

(Reporting by Steve Keating; Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)