Former World No.2 Sofia Kenin advanced to the second round at the BNP Paribas Open after defeating fellow American Sloane Stephens 6-4, 6-1 on Thursday night. Kenin will face reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina on Saturday.
Facing each other for just the second time in their careers, Kenin came into the match looking for her first win over Stephens and first victory over a fellow major champion since defeating Jelena Ostapenko at 2021 Roland Garros. Stephens prevailed in their first meeting, which came last year in Toronto, edging Kenin 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5.
More Day 2 highlights: Siniakova d. Niemeier | Pera d. Bronzetti | Maria d. Paolini | Muchova d. Putintseva | Stearns d. Masarova | Brengle d. Siegemund | Liu d. Schmiedlova | Frech d. Zanevska | Navarro d. McNally
Under the lights on Stadium Court, Kenin reversed her fortune by edging Stephens in a tight opening set before racing away with the match. Playing more contained, consistent tennis from the baseline, Kenin did well to stay level with Stephens until breaking in the final game of the first set to pocket a one-set lead.
Kenin broke in the opening stages of the second set to lead 2-0, coming through a protracted effort to break on her sixth break point of the game. From there, Kenin did not face a break point until the final game. Stephens earned two opportunities at 5-1 to get one break back, but after framing an overhead long on her second chance, Kenin erased any hopes of a comeback and served out the win after 1 hour and 21 minutes.
Dazzling under the lights ✨— wta (@WTA) March 10, 2023
🇺🇸 @SofiaKenin defeats Stephens 6-4, 6-1 in a battle of Grand Slam champions.@BNPPARIBASOPEN | #TennisParadise pic.twitter.com/KZ7UADNTfV
Kenin finished the match with 13 winners to 22 unforced errors and faced just four break points in the match, saving three. Stephens hit 16 winners to 33 unforced errors.
Peyton Stearns d. Rebeka Masarova, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4
The American wildcard has enjoyed a string of impressive wins over the last few weeks, starting with her run to her first WTA quarterfinal in Austin two weeks ago. The 21-year-old Texan, who played collegiate tennis at the University of Texas, Austin, made good on her main draw wildcard at Indian Wells, coming back to defeat Auckland finalist Rebeka Masarova in three sets. Stearns will face Bianca Andreescu next.
First. WTA. 1000. Win.— wta (@WTA) March 10, 2023
🇺🇸 @peyton_stearns delivers a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 comeback over Masarova and next meets Andreescu!@BNPPARIBASOPEN | #TennisParadise pic.twitter.com/4jyWnMVypj
Karolina Muchova d. Yulia Putintseva, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4
Muchova's resurgent form was on display during the Middle East swing and it continued in the California desert. Making her Indian Wells debut, the Czech rallied from 4-1 down in the third set to power past Putintseva. She will face two-time champion Victoria Azarenka in the second round.
That was some battle 😲— wta (@WTA) March 10, 2023
🇨🇿 @karomuchova7 holds off Putintseva 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 and sets up a blockbuster second-round match with Azarenka 🍿@BNPPARIBASOPEN | #TennisParadise pic.twitter.com/K1uUqGrsA9