Stephens homes in on Miami title

MIAMI • Sloane Stephens is determined to write her name into the history books in front of a partisan crowd at the WTA Miami Open final against world No. 5 Jelena Ostapenko today.

The US Open champion punched her ticket for today's showpiece with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 semi-final win over former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Thursday.

Stephens was raised in Plantation, Florida, just north of Key Biscayne , where the tournament is taking place.

She is expecting her friends and family to turn up in "full force" for the finale against the French Open champion, who saw off plucky American qualifier Danielle Collins 7-6 (7-1), 6-3.

Today's encounter will be the last women's final in Key Biscayne before the move to the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens next year.

While Stephens has won every one of the five finals she has contested in her career, a sixth in a row in front of her "home" fans would make winning the Miami Open for the first time even more special.

"This feels like a home final for me," she said. "It's always amazing for my friends and family when I play here. They are in full force.

"To play in front of my friends and family again here for the last time, it feels kind of cool that I'll be able to close it out in style for them."

Ostapenko, meanwhile, was delighted to reach her first WTA premier mandatory final - and just like Stephens, she is yet to win one.

"I'm feeling amazing now, I am really happy to be in the final," said the Latvian.

"I am staying very calm, I have been working on my mentality and it is helping me a lot. Sloane is great player but I will just try and enjoy it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

ATP/WTA MIAMI OPEN

Men's s-final 2: StarHub Ch201, 7am

Women's final: Ch203, tomorrow, 1am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2018, with the headline 'Stephens homes in on Miami title'. Print Edition | Subscribe