TORONTO, Canada - Sloane Stephens' comeback run at the Rogers Cup continued on Thursday afternoon in Toronto, as the American ousted No.3 seed Angelique Kerber to reach the quarterfinals, 6-2, 6-2.
The former World No.11 kept her inspiring comeback going with a 58-minute win over the No.3 seed, a performance in stark contrast to the two lengthy three-setters she won against Yulia Putintseva and No.14 seed Petra Kvitova to reach the last 16.
"Last week, I said eventually I was going to beat someone - so three people, it's pretty good," Stephens said after the match. "So, I'm just pleased with that - pleased to be playing well and just happy to be back on the court again. In the first match, I played well, someone that I don't think I have ever played before...and then second match playing Kvitova is never easy and she's a lefty, which I haven't played in a really long time.
"The same thing today, I just really went out and played my game. I was used to the lefty serve so that helped me a bit. I just went out and played my game and good result."
Stephens had never been past the third round at the Rogers Cup before this edition, with her previous best result coming in her debut in 2013.
The American was not unnerved by the occasion in Thursday's match, as she used her forehand to push Kerber around the court with great effect even in the opening stages of the match.
The former Australian Open semifinalist dominated all aspects of the 24-minute opening set, as she broke Kerber twice in two opportunities, served at a staggering 85 percent and dropped just four points on serve in total.
The second set proved more of the same, as Stephens continued her momentum from the opener with a break in the German's first service game, but had to dig deep on serve in the next game for the first time in the match.
In total, Stephens was forced to save three break points as she stepped to the line for the first time in the second set, as Kerber looked to work her way into the match.
Nonetheless, as the close of a four-deuce game, Stephens came up with the hold and never faced break point again for the rest of the way, before securing an insurance break in the fifth game en route to securing the victory in exactly an hour.
The 24-year-old American will face Lucie Safarova in the quarterfinals, after the Czech ended the winning streak of Citi Open champion Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-2.
"At this point, it's not really about winning and losing," Stephens assessed. "It's just getting out there and being able to play again. It's been such a long process and a long road, so just the pleasure of being able to compete again."