Sunday, 1 April 2018

Sloane beats Jelena to take Miami

Day Twelve of the Miami Open, and the Women’s Final was yet another career defining moment for Sloane Stephens (13), as she captured her first Premier Mandatory category title.

Her sixth overall title, from six finals appearances, accelerates Stephens to number nine in the world, and America’s number two singles player behind Venus Williams at eight.

The losing finalist on Key Biscayne was Jelena Ostapenko (6), whose first set battle with Stephens was error filled but fascinating. The pair exchanged eight breaks of serve between them en route to a fitting tie break.  Stephens had wasted a chance at 5-4 to serve out the set, with a double fault and loose ground shots, and in the tie break after she’d skipped away to a 6-2 advantage, Ostapenko saved four set points.

Stephens steadied, though, and took the set 7-6(5).

This was the first set dropped by the Latvian all tournament.

It also signalled the end for Jelena as Sloane stepped on the gas in set two, winning 14 points from 22 on the Ostapenko first serve, and 17 from 25 on the second delivery.

Jelena was striking far more winners, but simultaneously committing a host of unforced errors, undoing any positive work.

Sloane Stephens coasted to victory 7-6(5) 6-1.

A fantastic win, and looking back over the tournament, it is easy to see why Sloane lifted the trophy this week.

Her victims included:

Angie Kerber (10), Garbine Muguruza (3), Vika Azarenka, and Jelena Ostapenko (6) - all Grand Slam title winners, 7 between them.

Two are current GS title holders - Garbine and Jelena - as is Sloane herself - and the only one missing from the quartet is Caroline Wozniacki, who was knocked out early in the other side of the draw.

Aside from Stephens climbing to a career high of 9 in the world, other significant movers in the women’s singles rankings include:

Petra Martic - up five spots to a new career high of 35

Danielle Collins - up 40 places to a new career high of 53

Sofia Kenin - up nine spots to a new career high of 85

Yafan Wang - up 28 spots to a new career high of 97

There are now 2 US women in the top ten, four in the top fifteen, and fourteen in the top 100.

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