U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens again ended former world number one Victoria Azarenka’s hopes of a fairytale comeback by beating her 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 on Thursday to reach the Miami Open tennis final.
Three-times champion Azarenka, playing as a wildcard in her second event after an eight-month absence because of a custody dispute involving her son, showed glimpses of the form that took her to the top of the rankings but ultimately ran out of gas against her 13th-seeded opponent.
Stephens, who also beat Azarenka in the second round at Indian Wells this month, took control of the match early in the second set and never looked back as she raced through the decider with ease.
“I just knew I had to keep fighting. In the first set I was down but I battled back so I knew if I did that in the second, I’d be right in there,” the 25-year-old American said in an on-court interview.