Stephens tops Keys,
reaches first French Open final
Arthur Kapetanakis | June 7, 2018
In a rematch of the 2017 US Open final, Sloane Stephens once again defeated Madison Keys in straight sets. This time, the reward for Stephens is her first French Open final and a matchup against world No. 1 Simona Halep on Saturday.
Though this encounter was closer than the pair’s US Open meeting, Stephens was once again in control on Philippe-Chatrier Court in a 6-4, 6-4 victory that lasted one hour, 17 minutes.
The soon-to-be American No. 1 gained control early in the third match on the Paris show court, despite Keys winning seven consecutive points on serve in the early going. Keys led 40-0 on her second service game when Stephens snapped into form, digging out of the hole to secure the only break of the first set.
Keys, who trains at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., created two break points at 2-3 down, but Stephens fought through to maintain her advantage before serving out the 38-minute opening set to love.ADVERTISEMENT
The reigning US Open champion immediately edged in front in set two by breaking in a 12-point opening game on her fourth opportunity. After a quick Stephens hold, Keys regained her rhythm to get on the board and ensure that, at the very least, she would avoid a runaway second set like the one that ended her US Open title bid, 6-0, at the hands of Stephens.
But Stephens, the No. 10 seed, continued to plug away, her steady game yielding nine winners but just 11 unforced errors on the day. Like most Stephens opponents, Keys was forced to employ high-risk tactics in an effort to hit through her dogged adversary. While she has played that aggressive game with great effect leading up to the semifinals, on this day she was not able to find her best strokes, as she made 41 unforced errors to 25 winners.
Of the 68 points that Stephens won in the match, more than 60 percent were the result of Keys unforced errors.
A second break – and third of the match – for Stephens gave her a comfortable 5-2 second-set lead, but just when it seemed she would cruise to victory, Keys responded with her only break of the match and a quick hold to close to 4-5.
At the second time of asking, Stephens made good on the chance to serve her way into the final. She now holds a 3-0 lifetime record over Keys and has not dropped a set in their three meetings.
For Keys, her initial disappointment will be eased by the fact that this was her third consecutive deep run at a major. She backed up her 2017 US Open final appearance with a quarterfinal showing in Australia and now this result in Paris. Her best result at Wimbledon was a quarterfinal appearance in 2015, though she bowed out in round two last year, leaving her with few ranking points to defend.
Stephens will now look to improve on her perfect 6-0 record in WTA singles finals, as she seeks the second major title of her career. Halep, her opponent in the final, will be seeking her first. The Romanian was up a set and a break against eventual champion Jelena Ostapenko in last year's French Open championship, and she holds an 0-3 record in major finals.
The women's singles final will be played a 9 a.m. ET on Saturday and will be aired live on NBC.