Miami, April 1 (IANS) Home-crowd favourite Sloane Stephens won a wild first set that featured eight service breaks and then rolled through the second set for a 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 victory over Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in the final of the Miami Open.
The conservative, defence-minded strategy the reigning US Open champion adopted from the baseline proved to be the correct one against the 2017 French Open winner, who buried herself under a barrage of unforced errors on Saturday, reports Efe.
The 12th-ranked Stephens took home the trophy despite an unattractive stat line of six winners and 21 unforced errors, while Ostapenko struck only 10 winners and committed a whopping 48 unforced errors in just 20 games.
The Latvian paid dearly for her lack of effectiveness of serve, as she put only 52 percent of her first serves in play and won only 39 percent of her first serve points.
That led to the fifth-ranked Ostapenko losing her serve on seven occasions throughout the one-hour, 31-minute match.
Stephens appeared headed to a relatively routine first-set win when she grabbed a 5-3 lead, but Ostapenko managed a rare service hold to narrow the lead to 5-4 and then evened the set in the following game by breaking the American’s serve.
The set came down to a tie-breaker, which Stephens won by retrieving Ostapenko’s powerful backhands and eliciting numerous unforced errors into the net.
Ostapenko kicked off the second set by breaking Stephens’s serve for the fifth time to take a 1-0 lead, but the American used her superior consistency to run the table over the next six games and win her sixth career title and fourth on United States soil.
“I always play well in the US. I don’t know why but I think it’s because of you guys, so I want you guys to understand how much you help me when I’m out here,” Stephens told the fans during the trophy ceremony on Stadium court.
The title at this WTA Premier Mandatory tennis event is a special one for the 25-year-old American, who has struggled since winning her first Grand Slam title last September at the US Open.