Victories over Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber and Victoria Azarenka preceded her 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 win over French Open champion Ostapenko and Stephens was delighted to end what had been an otherwise disappointing start to the season, which had also been disrupted by a knee injury.
Stephens will next be in action in just a few days at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, where she is the fourth seed and where she won the title in 2016. 'I was thinking that my life was over because the only thing I had was tennis and that was the only thing that I knew, ' Stephens admitted.
"This place is pretty special to me", said Florida native Stephens. But she shook her slump on Key Biscayne, improved to 6-0 in finals and will break into the top 10 for first time next week at No. 9.
There's a fair gap between No. 10 and the top players; for example, she's more than 1,000 points behind No. 8 Venus Williams.
Stephens endured a bad slump after winning her first major but has responded superbly and this first Miami title has set up well for the clay challenges ahead.
"The first time I saw Venus in the locker room I almost cried", Collins said in an on-court interview.
The U.S. Open trophy that Stephens was awarded last September, for example, now holds a coveted place in the middle of the dining table in her grandparents' home in Fresno, Calif.
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"Even if you are missing you have to play aggressive", she said.
"Now I can prepare for the clay but I have some time before going back to the French Open and to think about what it will be like to defend my title". You just kind of have to accept that she's going to hit some really great shots.
Where some great players use their athleticism to try to do more with the ball than their opponents, Stephens uses her to do less-or just enough.
The 20-year-old Ostapenko, now at career-high No. 5 ranking, was No. 64 entering last year's Miami Open.
It could hardly be a better conclusion to the final playing of one of tennis's biggest tournaments at Crandon Park in the Florida Keys..
"Comparing to the other matches I watched her play this week, she was moving really well".
She hit just six winners, and made a lot of errors. When the USTA was here, we played Orange Bowl and all sorts of tournaments here. I have had some unbelievable experiences here. "I just needed a little bit of a reminder to just go for it if I wanted to take the title".