By Steve Gorten
KEY BISCAYNE – Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, two of America’s young, rising stars, are set to go head-to-head in the second round of the 2015 Miami Open.
The matchup between Stephens, 22, and Keys, 20, was solidified with Stephens’ 6-1, 6-3 win against Yanina Wickmayer in the last match on Wednesday night.
“I thought I played really well,” Stephens said. “I’m happy to get the win. Playing in South Florida is always great for me, so I was really pleased with the way I played. …Every match is important, but being home and having the home crowd is always nice.”
The second-round matchup between Stephens and Keys will be their first meeting.
“Maddy is an awesome player,” Stephens said. “I know her really well. We’ve played on Fed Cup teams many a times. It’ll be an awesome match and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Stephens, No. 45 in the WTA rankings, reached as high as No. 12 in 2013 after reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open, quarterfinals of Wimbledon, and fourth round of the U.S. Open and French Open.
Keys, the highest ranked American after the Williams sisters at No. 18, reached the semifinals of this year’s Australian Open, where she lost to Serena, by beating Venus in three sets. She had a first-round bye at the Miami Open as the tournament’s No. 17 seed.
Both players have South Florida ties – Stephens was born in Plantation and lives in Coral Springs; Keys is a Boca Raton resident.
Earlier, Argentina’s Juan Monaco defeated Belgian qualifier Ruben Bemelmans 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-4. In the other late-session matches, Bulgarian qualifier Sesil Karatantcheva knocked off American Lauren Davis 6-3, 7-6 (5) and Sam Querrey became the fifth American men’s player to advance Wednesday with a 6-4, 6-3 win against Dominican Victor Estrella Burgos.
“I couldn’t be happier,” Querrey said, adding that he was pleasantly surprised by “a lively atmosphere and a full house” for his night match. “Victor is a tough player and made me work hard. I fought through some tough situations. I just stayed consistent the whole time, had a positive attitude, served well and looked to hit a bunch of forehands. That’s my game. I’ve just got to keep doing that all week.”