Miami Open Day 3 Preview: Stephens Dreams of Second Crown


image: Sloane Stephens at play

By Daniel Perissé

Sloane Stephens plays the first night session match at the 2021 Miami Open presented by Itaú this Wednesday, March 24th, against French qualifier Oceane Dodin. The 2017 US Open winner arrives at Hard Rock Stadium in search of her second title in South Florida, after claiming the first in 2018.

One year after conquering her first Grand Slam in Flushing Meadows, Stephens defeated Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (5), 6-1 in Key Biscayne to claim her first crown in Miami. Coming from a 0-4 record this year, a victory in the first round may bring her confidence for a good run in the Magic City.

Ostapenko also plays tomorrow: the Latvian faces Chinese wild card Xiyu Wang. Her best campaign this year was at the Gippsland Trophy in Melbourne, Australia, where she reached the round of 16 – lost to Ukrainian Elina Svitolina.

Another player to watch this Wednesday is US qualifier Hailey Baptiste. The 19-year-old beat two seeded players on her way to the main draw and now plays against Slovakia’s Kristina Kucova, who also came from the qualifying tournament. The American’s best result so far this year was the semifinal at the Boca Raton ITF $25,000 tournament in February.

A one-time winner in Miami (2006), Svetlana Kuznetsova is another player to make her debut, facing Alize Cornet, from France. The 35-year-old Russian, who also lost the final in South Florida in 2016, comes from reaching the semifinals in her hometown Saint Petersburg.

As for the Men’s Draw, several Americans are playing on Grandstand: Sam Querrey faces Yen-Hsun Lu to see who will challenge top seed Daniil Medvedev in the second round, and Steve Johnson plays German Yannick Hanfmann. Frances Tiafoe closes the night session against Italian Stefano Travaglia.

The day session begins at 11:00am at Hard Rock Stadium, while the night session is scheduled to start at 7:00pm.