Mon, Apr 02, 2018 - Page 10 News List

Stephens downs Ostapenko to win the Miami Open final

AFP, MIAMI, Florida

Sloane Stephens reacts after defeating Jelena Ostapenko during the women’s final match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Florida, on Saturday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Sloane Stephens on Saturday held her nerve in an error-strewn WTA Miami Open final to beat Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7/5) 6-1 and lift the prestigious title for the first time.

Florida native Stephens, who has now won all six finals that she has competed in, had been determined to win the last tournament at Key Biscayne before it moves next year.

However, a nervy final was not easy on the eye with both players appearing to be struggling to get to grips with the occasion.

There were eight breaks of serve in the first set alone — that total eventually ended up at 12 — with French Open champion Ostapenko hitting 48 unforced errors compared with US Open champion Stephens making 21 during the entire 1 hour, 32 minutes.

However, the triumph for the American capped an impressive campaign that saw victories over grand slam winners Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka before Ostapenko was also dispatched.

“I knew I would have to run a lot of balls down. You have to accept that she will hit great shots, so I didn’t worry about that too much,” said a delighted Stephens, who will be named in the WTA top 10 for the first time when the new rankings are released today.

Stephens endured a terrible slump after winning her first major, but has responded superbly and this first Miami title has set up well for the clay challenges ahead.

It was the first time either player had made it to the final of a WTA Premier Mandatory event and Ostapenko, at just 20 years and 297 days, was the youngest finalist in Miami since Azarenka won there in 2009.

Ostapenko came into the encounter having not lost a set, but the Latvian’s efforts were washed away in a sea of errors and an inability to puncture the Stephens defense.

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