Defending champ out of Miami Open

Defending champion Sloane Stephens was sent packing from the Miami Open on Sunday after a 6-3, 6-2 loss to Germany’s Tatjana Maria in the third round.

Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion and world No. 6, had no answer to Florida-based Maria’s slices, chips and lobs and suffered a second consecutive early exit after losing her first match in Indian Wells to Swiss qualifier Stefanie Vogele.

Earlier on Sunday, second seed Simona Halep fought back from a set down to defeat Polona Hercog while Venus Williams reached the next round with a straight sets win over Daria Kasatkina.

Maria, ranked 62nd in the world, celebrated prematurely on her third match point with a lob shot that was called out, but won on the next one when Stephens sent a backhand long.

“I could not be happier right now,” the 31-year-old said. “I think I played at home, because I live here. It was helping me a lot.” – Reuters

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