Stephens wins Miami,
Tops Ostapenko in final
Arthur Kapetanakis | March 31, 2018
Sloane Stephens lived up to her reputation as a big-match player in Saturday's Miami Open final, claiming her first title since the 2017 US Open with a 7-6, 6-1 victory over Latvian Jelena Ostapenko.
The victory improves the south Florida native's record in WTA finals to a perfect 6-0.
After grinding through a tight first set, Stephens won the final six games of the match to claim the trophy in front of a supportive home crowd.
In a marquee matchup between the reigning US Open and French Open champions, neither player could create separation early on, as the pair traded eight breaks in the opening set. Stephens had two chances to serve it out, but both times the 20-year-old Ostapenko broke to get level.
In the opening-set tiebreak, Stephens jumped out to a 6-2 lead before her No. 6-seeded opponent closed to 6-5. ADVERTISEMENT On her fourth set point, the American held her nerve to secure the first set.
Ostapenko showed her championship pedigree by regrouping to hold in the first game of set two, but Stephens responded by winning the next two games to take command of the match.
From there, the American would roll to the title, closing out the final in just over one hour, 30 minutes. The No. 13 seed nearly doubled her opponent's points won in set two, winning 31 to Ostapenko's 16.
The local favorite was quick to credit the Miami crowd after the match.
"I always play well in the U.S.," said Stephens, addressing the crowd during the trophy ceremony. "I don't know why, but I think it's because of you guys."
With the win, Stephens will enter the Top 10 in the WTA world rankings for the first time. She will move up to a career-high No. 9 with the release of the updated rankings on Monday, one spot below Venus Williams, the highest-ranked American.
Having missed much of the 2017 spring and summer schedule due to injury, the 25-year-old has very few rankings points to defend until August and will be playing with house money as she sets her sights on the Top 5.
In other action Saturday, Bob and Mike Bryan defeated the Russian duo of Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev, 4-6, 7-6, [10-4], to claim the men's doubles title. The win gave the twins their 37th Masters 1000 title, 114th doubles title as a team and fifth overall title at the Miami tournament.
On Sunday, John Isner will take on Germany's Alexander Zverev in the men's singles final, with a chance to make it an American sweep in both Miami singles events, something that last happened in 2004, when Andy Roddick joined Serena Williams in the winner's circle.
Stephens' Fed Cup teammate, CoCo Vandeweghe, will also be competing, teaming with Australian Ashleigh Barty against the Czech team of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova in the women's doubles final.