ACAPULCO, Mexico - Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia earned her first ever WTA Top 10 win in a stunner against No.1 seed Sloane Stephens at the Abierto Mexicano TELCEL presentado por HSBC.
Coming into the clash, Haddad Maia was 0-6 against Top 10 opponents, winning just one set in total. But up against Stephens at Cancha Central, the 22-year-old came up with some of her best tennis to claim the victory in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3.
“It was a very good match from me, I think I prepared really well for it because I talked a lot with my coach before,” Haddad Maia told press afterwards. “We watched a lot of videos, we watched her playing yesterday.
“I think I was playing every single point with 100% of focus, and that’s why I think I got the win today.”
With the victory Haddad Maia is through to the Acapulco quarterfinals - her first WTA quarterfinals since her 2017 run to the Seoul final. It’s a positive milestone for the Brazilian, who has spent much of her career sidelined by injury, including undergoing two back surgeries.
“My body feels 100% - this is the first priority for me,” Haddad Maia said. “I had like three surgeries, but I’m always worried about my next point, my next game. So every day I make sure to have good preparation and make sure I’m playing well.”
Stephens, who opened here with a comfortable win over Pauline Parmentier in the first round, made the perfect start against Haddad Maia after an early break put her ahead 1-0. But Haddad Maia recovered emphatically, breaking straight back before taking the lead at 4-2. She saved a break point on her way to serving out the set.
Haddad Maia took another early break in the second set, stepping into the court and serving powerfully as she climbed ahead to 3-1. She had Stephens under pressure for the rest of the set, creating two more break chances at 4-3. The unforced errors flew from Stephens’ racquet as the American was forced to go for bigger shots against the Brazilian’s firepower.
She needed two match points to seal the match, although Stephens made it much more complicated than it sounds. Haddad Maia had to dig deep in a marathon eight-minute final game that featured five deuces, and broke the American once more to claim the victory after an hour and 25 minutes.
“It was just a tough match, obviously she played well,” Stephens acknowledged in her post-match press conference. “A tough day. But I’m not too sad about it.
“I’m just going to go back and work some more, practice some more and get ready for Indian Wells.”
Up next, the Brazilian awaits the winner between Monica Puig - who authored the big Day 1 upset over No.6 seed Maria Sakkari - and Wang Yafan.
“The win today, my first win over a Top 10, for sure it’s going to give me confidence in the next round,” Haddad Maia said. “Stephens is one of my idols - I saw her playing and I know how solid she is and how tough to play against. I’m happy I beat her, but I know the rest of the players are playing well too.
“So now I need to keep my game. To be aggressive and make my strategy as better as I can - and the confidence is going to help me playing in every point.”