Miami Open, ????? R3 Preview
?? (13) Sloane Stephens vs. ?? Monica Niculescu
Reigning U.S Open champion Sloane Stephens will be back in action on Saturday when she takes on Romania’s Monica Niculescu in the third round of the 2018 Miami Open. Sloane’s troubles after the U.S Open were well documented, the American’s form slump seems to be behind her as she is finally picking up some solid victories. Niculescu has already won 4 matches in Miami, the qualifier is always a tough opponent and will test the focus of Sloane.
Sloane Stephens has avoided opening round exits in her last 3 events, good news for Sloane after 6 consecutive losses after her U.S Open triumph. Stephens has slowly began to build momentum over the last month. It started in Acapulco where Sloane reached the quarter-finals, whilst last week in Indian Wells Sloane claimed a notable straight set win over Azarenka. Stephens received a bye through the opening round in Miami before strolling past Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 6-3. Sloane’s determination seems to be back where it needs to be, her games is lowly falling back into place.
Monica Niculescu is enjoying her time in Miami. The Romanian has won 4 matches to reach the third round stage having won a couple of matches in the qualifying draw. Niculescu is yet to drop a set, claiming straight set wins over Antonia Lottner, Yanina Wickmayer, Yulia Putintseva and finally a 6-3 6-3 win over the 17th seeded Magdalena Rybarikova.
Stephens holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Niculescu. Stephens has won the last two matches between the pair, including a 6-4 6-2 in Hobart in 2015 in their most recent match.