American Sloane Stephens had a 6-3, 6-4 win over Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson to set up a quarterfinal against Williams. She’ll face a childhood hero.
‘’Obviously, she’s been a really great influence in my tennis,’’ the 19-year-old Stephens said. ‘’I’m excited to play her and get on the court with her. I think it’ll be fun.’’
Williams said she has been following Stephens’ career and was ‘’a fan’’ of her young Fed Cup teammate’s style.
In her first tournament back since being sidelined by an abdominal injury following the U.S. Open, Stephens isn’t awed by the prospect of taking on the 15-time Grand Slam winner.
‘’Obviously, I always was like, ‘Oh, my God. I love her to death. She’s amazing, whatever,’’’ Stephens recalled of early meetings with Williams. ‘’Now she’s like an actual person and I’m like, ‘Oh, hi. How is it going?’ She’s not like a hero anymore. She’s just a friend.
“Even if I go out there and lose, just bomb it, I don’t win a game, at least if I’m able to focus on myself and do what’s right for me, then it’s not a loss.’’
Kerber recovered from 5-2 down in the deciding tiebreaker to beat Puerto Rican qualifier Monica Puig, 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7).
Azarenka won her first major at the Australian Open last year during a 26-match winning streak to start the season and spent most of 2012 atop the women’s rankings.