Victoria Azarenko fails to reach Miami Open final

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The US Open champion punched her ticket for today's showpiece with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 semi-final win over former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus on Thursday.

Stephens finally jumped into the top 10 this week, for the first time in her career. She played nearly ideal tennis to snap up four points in a row and allow her opponent just one point, closing it out 7-1. It was encouraging to see that Stephens was able to win without playing her best tennis.

It's just I was fresher in the first set and getting to the ball at the right time.

"All young American girls look up to Serena and Venus".

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"Now I'm trying to be calm and I think it's helping".

That eclipsed the previous best result by a qualifier, when Marion Bartoli made the last eight in 2003. Azarenka has been involved in a custody dispute for several months and is headed back to Los Angeles, where she makes her home.

Stephens endured a torrid five-month losing streak following her shock triumph at Flushing Meadows past year, but since she snapped the run in Acapulco last month she has rediscovered her best tennis. "It's going to be another incredible opportunity for me, and I'm just really looking forward to get out on the court and having a great match".

"This is such a cool situation, I need a couple of hours to process it all".

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Ostapenko and Stephens have never played a tour match against each other, and both are seeking their first title this season.

And in the final she will meet world number five Jelena Ostapenko after the French Open champion saw off plucky American qualifier Danielle Collins 7-6 (7/1), 6-3.

Ostapenko knocked out the highest ranked player left in the draw No. 4 Elina Svitolina 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5). Ostapenko is the current French Open champion and will provide another tough test for Collins.

Disappointing outings at Shenzhen, the Australian Open, Doha and Indian Wells compounded a hard start to 2018, although a quarter-final exit at St Petersburg to eventual victor Petra Kvitova was a more positive return. You know, my upbringing was just a little bit different. I had to play smarter but my aggression helped,"Ostapenko said". "More consistent and more confident and just going for shots sometimes and not afraid to miss it". I mean, I've idolized her my whole life.

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