Struggling former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens faces rising Acapulco runner-up Leylah Fernandez in the second round of Monterrey on Wednesday.
?? Sloane Stephens  vs ?? Leylah Fernandez [SE] Match Info
Date: Wednesday March 4
Tournament: WTA Monterrey R2
Court: Estadio GMP Seguros
Time: 7.00pm local time (1.00am GMT)
Sloane Stephens vs Leylah Fernandez Head-to-Head
Sloane Stephens vs Leylah Fernandez Match Preview
Former top 10 star Stephens goes in search of back-to-back wins for just the second time since Wimbledon when she confronts 17-year-old phenom Fernandez in the second round of Monterrey on Wednesday night.
Opting to take a wildcard into Monterrey as she aimed for a first win of 2020, Stephens battled her way to a 6-4 5-7 6-1 triumph over teenage American wildcard Emma Navarro in the opening round on Monday. It was far from a clean performance from the 2017 U.S. Open champion, but Stephens nevertheless managed to snap a five-match losing streak for her first win of the season in two hours and 16 minutes.
“It was a tough match,” Stephens said afterwards. “It’s tough when you don’t know an opponent that well, you’re still getting used to how they play as you’re going, and even tougher to play against an American. Happy to get my first win of the season here, hopefully more to come.”
While it was a struggle against a player ranked No. 383 in the world, Stephens will hopefully take confidence from the victory over Navarro – especially since she’s lost to a number of lower-ranked players already this year.
Indeed, Stephens was defeated by No. 129 Liudmila Samsonova in Brisbane, No. 201 Arina Rodionova in Adelaide and No. 270 Renata Zarazua last week in Acapulco, while a loss to Zhang Shuai in the Australian Open meant the American arrived in Monterrey with a 0-4 record for the season.
It’s a far cry from the sort of form Stephens produced in 2017 and 2018 when she won the U.S. Open before taking home the Premier Mandatory Miami Open silverware, along with finishing runner-up at Roland Garros and the WTA Finals Singapore, finishing 2018 at No. 6 in the world. However, with her best results in 2019 being a semi-final in Madrid and quarter-final at Roland Garros, Stephens is currently operating at No. 37 in the world. Can she kick-start her season and find some form in Monterrey this week?
She faces a very tough challenge in the second round. Leylah Fernandez is putting together a swift rise on the WTA Tour and will be ranked inside the top 100 (and much higher) sooner rather than later, coming into Monterrey at No. 126 in the world following her superb showing in Acapulco last week, where she qualified for the main draw before advancing all the way to her maiden WTA final, where she went down in a dramatic three-setter to Heather Watson – but not before saving a whopping 10 championship points.
A runner-up at the junior Australian Open before defeating Emma Navarro for the French Open junior title, Fernandez built up her senior ranking on the ITF circuit last season, winning the $25k title in Gatineaux and finishing runner-up in Waco, improving her ranking by over 200 spots. However, the 17-year-old has already taken her game to the next level in 2020 and will almost certainly leave the ITF circuit behind in the coming months, qualifying for the Australian Open before knocking off top 10 star Belinda Bencic in Fed Cup action for Canada against Switzerland last month. With a quick turnaround from Acapulco, Fernandez registered an impressive 7-6(5) 6-2 win over Stefanie Voegele in her opening round in Monterrey on Tuesday.
Sloane Stephens vs Leylah Fernandez Prediction
Fernandez has played a lot of tennis over the last week – far more than she’s used to at this level – but if she’s not physically underdone, she is arguably favourite against the former U.S. Open champion. Stephens is in poor form at the moment and didn’t look too flash as she struggled past Navarro. The American, from the outside looking in, doesn’t look like she’s enjoying tennis too much at the moment either. Fernandez is playing by far the better tennis at the moment and if she maintains the form she’s produced over the last month or so, she is excellently poised for another big scalp in Monterrey.