Victoria Azarenka v Sloane Stephens live stream | National Bank Open 2023 Preview

Jonathan Davies in National Bank Open 08 Aug 2023
Azarenka and Stephens collide once more (Jimmie48 Photography / Alamy Stock Photo)

Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens meet for the 10th time when they lock horns in round two of the National Bank Open.

The former grand slam champions take their career head-to-head record into double figures, with Azarenka shading it 5-4.

The two-time Australian Open winner had lost each of the four previous encounters, but has stopped the rot by prevailing in both showdowns this year in Charleston and Rome.

Azarenka is making her 11th appearance at the WTA 1000 event, where she is a three-time semi-finalist and reached a further two quarter-finals, and began with a commanding 6-3, 6-0 victory over Magda Linette.

The former world number one is desperate for a strong run to build momentum ahead of the US Open, where she is a three-time finalist.

Despite a strong start to the season that saw her reach the last four at the Australian Open, Azarenka has not progressed beyond the last 16 of any event since.

Meanwhile, her opponent arrives in this contest fresh from a seventh first-round exit of the campaign to compatriot Lauren Davis at the Citi Open.

Nevertheless, Stephens knows what it takes to go deep in this event. Runner-up five years ago, she also reached the semi-finals in 2017 – the year she went on to win the US Open.

Although, in her nine appearances to date, those represent her only ventures beyond the third round.

A WTA 125 winner in Saint Melo, where she beat Elina Svitolina along the way, and a semi-finalist in Rabat, the American avoided falling at the first hurdle once more here by defeating Anhelina Kalinina 6-4, 7-6(2) in the opening round.

The winner of this match will play third seed Elena Rybakina or Jennifer Brady in the last 16 at the National Bank Open.

Play gets underway at around 2am BST on Wednesday and will be contested over the best of three sets on Court Rogers.