Teenage sensation Linda Fruhvirtova continues to make waves in the women's draw of the Miami Open.
The 16-year-old wildcard, ranked World No.279, is through to Round 3 in her debut WTA 1000 event after she upset No.24 Elise Mertens on Friday, 7-5, 2-6, 6-1. Two days ago, Fruhvirtova earned her first completed Top 100 victory in Round 1 against Danka Kovinic, and has now added a Top 30 win to her resume against World No.24 Mertens.
"It's definitely one of my best tournaments so far, I think the best one," Fruhvirtova told the press. "I never played against a Top 25 player, and it's unbelievable. I still can't believe it. But I'm so happy I got the win here. I worked really hard for this, and I'm enjoying it.
"I was like, 'Just stay focused until the match is over'... She had some chances at the beginning of the third set to break me. But it's unbelievable. It's like, '[Did] that really happen or am I just dreaming?' The feeling is amazing, you know. These are the moments we do it for."
Fruhvirtova hardly looked awed in her first career match against a Top 50 player, evidenced early as she recovered to win the opening set despite losing serve to begin the match. She later recovered from 0-40 at 3-3, and won eight of the last nine points to take a one-set lead.
In the decider, she bounced back quickly after Mertens established authority in the second set. She staved off a break point in the set's opening game and won the last five to secure victory against the No.20 seed in a minute over two hours.
Azarenka survives strong Alexandrova challenge
Fruhvirtova will face one of the game's great veterans in the next round, Victoria Azarenka. The three-time champion closed out the night session in dramatic fashion, narrowly edging Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5) after 2 hours and 45 minutes. Alexandrova played inspired offensive tennis, firing 51 winners in the match, but Azarenka proved found her best in the biggest moments.
Alexandrova kept the pressure on Azarenka's serve through the match, generating a total of 22 break point chances, nearly twice as many opportunities as Azarenka's 12. The sustained pressure allowed her to take the second set, but Azarenka successfully kept her at bay in the decider.
Azarenka served for the win at 6-5 but Alexandrova finally broke through on her seventh break point of the game to force a tiebreak. Azarenka played a cleaner, more aggressive tiebreak and sealed the win on her third match point.
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Pegula eases past Stephens in all-American second round
Next month, they'll be teammates on the U.S. Billie Jean King Cup team, but in Round 2 at the Miami Open, Jessica Pegula got the better of Sloane Stephens. The No.16 seed eased to a 6-1, 6-4 straight-sets victory in the all-American clash, coming from 4-2 down in the second set.
Highlights: Pegula def. Stephens
"It was a tough match, obviously always playing Sloane, and playing her second round isn't always easy," Pegula said afterwards. "Then playing a fellow American, we're going to go play [Billie Jean King] Cup soon. ... I'm glad it's over with, glad I got the win. I thought I played pretty well today."
Pegula now leads Stephens, 2-0, in their career head-to-head. She also lost just five games in a 6-2, 6-3 victory in Indian Wells last fall.