By Tucker Verdi
Call them elite because the eight women who have advanced to the quarterfinals certainly had to fight to get there.
After Monday’s round of 16 play, fans are in store for four outstanding matchups in the quarters. [Each match will feature at least one Grand Slam champion and four former World No. 1’s remain.]
No. 13 seed Sloane Stephens moved on to her second Miami Open quarterfinal with a straight sets win over third-ranked Garbiñe Muguruza. The match was a back and forth exchange of breaks, with Stephens getting the last at 3-all in the second to take the lead. She never lost it, claiming the match 6-3, 6-4 in just under 90 minutes.
Stephens will take on yet another 2-time Grand Slam winner in Angelique Kerber, who faced the toughest test of the quarterfinalists. The No. 10 seed needed three sets and 2 hours and 51 minutes to overcome a fierce challenge by Chinese qualifier Wang Yafan, ultimately winning 6-7(1), 7-6(5), 6-3.
Former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka cruised to a 6-2, 6-2 win over Agnieszka Radwanska, breaking Radwanska 7 times en route to the quarterfinals. Azarenka is chasing her fourth title in Key Biscayne after wins in 2009, 2011, and 2016.
Azarenka will face another former World No. 1 in Karolina Pliskova, who advanced to the quarters following the retirement of Zarina Diyas with Pliskova leading 6-2, 2-1. Diyas had called for medical timeouts twice during the match, laying out on the court and receiving treatments on her lower abdomen.
On the other side of the draw, the highest seed remaining – No. 4 Elina Svitolina – came from behind yet again to break into the quarters. Australian Ashleigh Barty had a 4-1 lead in the first before the Ukranian charged back and won 7-5, 6-4.
Svitolina will go up against the reigning French Open champion, Jelena Ostapenko, who overcame two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova 7-6(4), 6-3 in a match that stretched late into the night on Stadium Court.
Venus Williams staged yet another comeback in search of her fourth Miami Open title. This time, it was against the defending champion Johanna Konta, who claimed the first set 7-5. But the 37-year-old settled in after that, taking the second set 6-1 and third set 6-2 in her second consecutive two-hour match.
Williams will play another American – albeit an unexpected one – in qualifier Danielle Collins. Collins continued her unlikely run at Crandon Park by ending the run of Puerto Rican Monica Puig. Puig got off to a hot start with a 6-3 first set win, but Collins fought back to take the second and third 6-4 and 6-2, respectively, to mark the deepest tournament run of her career.
For full match results, visit miamiopen.com/2018-results.