Ostapenko's route to the tournament's showpiece women's contest was much more serene as she dispatched American Danielle Collins 7-6, 6-3.
"This is so cool!" It's always awesome for my friends and family when I play here.
That was Stephens' mantra when her U.S. Open championship previous year was followed by eight consecutive losses, a staggering, frustrating and nearly inexplicable freefall.
Collins, bidding to reach Sloane Stephens and give the Miami fans the first All-American final since 2003 when Venus Williams defeated birthday girl Jennifer Capriati, dramatically highlighted her inexperience.
"I just took the time go get myself together", Stephens said of her effort to readjust to life as a Grand Slam champ. Not only did she beat Azarenka for the second time in a month - she also scored a second round-victory in Indian Wells, Calif. - but Stephens also upset the reigning Wimbledon champion, Garbine Muguruza, in the round of 16 and another former world No. 1, Angelique Kerber, in the quarterfinals.
Stephens will face French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko after the sixth seed beat American qualifier Danielle Collins 7-6 6-3 in the other semi-final. The American, who had never won a WTA main draw match before this month, will earn $327,965 by reaching the last four, more than doubling her current career earnings, and will rise to a new career-high climbing into the Top 55 after the semifinal run. She went for every shot and they landed.
"I knew I was going to have to fight regardless of what happened in last tournament", she added. You can certainly make the argument that Stephens should haveve taken more time off after winning her first Major instead of participating in the Asian Swing just a few weeks after her big win. "Now, I'm playing more consistent".
"I'm feeling awesome now", said Latvian Ostapenko, who wore down Collins with a series of powerful groundstrokes.
Victoria Azarenka won the Miami Open in 2009, 2011, and 2016. The 14th-seeded Isner finished with 13 aces, won all but one of his 32 first-serve points and avenged a loss to the 19th-seeded Chung at Auckland in his first match of the year back in January. And then going into this season, I knew that I didn't have the greatest offseason, so for me, the two matches that I lost the first part of the year in Australia, not a big deal.
Jelena Ostapenko (6), Latvia, def. Elina Svitolina (4), Ukraine, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5).