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Take Five: Stephens wins WTA 125 in France, Gauff/Pegula reach Madrid doubles final

Arthur Kapetanakis | May 08, 2023

Welcome to Take Five, a weekly series on recapping five of the biggest stories from American tennis over the last week on the professional tennis circuit. Sloane Stephens won the singles title at the WTA 125 event in Saint-Malo, France, on Sunday while Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula reached the doubles final at the Madrid WTA 1000.

Stephens returns to winners' circle in France

Sloane Stephens won her first title of 2023 with a dominant run as the top seed in Saint-Malo. The American defeated Elina Svitolina in the semis and Greet Minnen in the clay-court final to claim her first trophy at the WTA 125 level.


Stephens dropped just one set in five matches en route to the title, against France's Jessika Ponchet in the quarterfinals. The trophy is her first since she won a WTA 250 crown in Guadalajara last February.


The victory moved Stephens up 12 places to No. 36 in the WTA rankings, one place higher than she began the year. That standing gives her a chance to be seeded at Roland Garros later this month, when she will bid to improve upon her quarterfinal run from last season.

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

But before the year's second Grand Slam, Stephens will look to continue her momentum this week at the WTA 1000 in Rome, where she opens against Argentina's Nadia Podoroska.


Other Americans making deep runs in Saint-Malo included singles semifinalist Katie Volynets and quarterfinalist Emma Navarro.


Gauff/Pegula reach third final of 2023 in Madrid

Following WTA doubles titles in Qatar and Miami, Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula advanced to their third final of the season at the WTA 1000 in Madrid. After losing just one set in four matches to reach the title match, including a match tiebreak win against sixth seeds Gabriela Dubrowski and Luisa Stefani, the top seeds were turned back by Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Hadda Maia, 6-1, 6-4, in the championship round.


American Desirae Krawczyk also made a deep doubles run in Madrid, reaching the semifinals with 2021 US Open singles finalist Leylah Fernandez before falling to Azarenka and Haddad Maiai.

Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

Pegula also reached the quarterfinals in the Madrid singles event, defeating seeded opponents Marie Bouzkova and Martina Trevisan before losing in three sets to 12th seed Veronika Kudermetova. The American was seeded third in the singles draw but fell short of matching her run to the Madrid final from one year ago.


Gauff was knocked off by Spanish home favorite Paula Badosa in the third round, matching her best result in the Spanish capital.


Fritz fires into Madrid fourth round

While Taylor Fritz's streak of seven straight ATP quarterfinals came to an end in Madrid, along with his run of two consecutive clay semis, the top-ranked American produced another strong display on the dirt to reach the singles last 16.


The 25-year-old beat Christopher O'Connell and Cristian Garin before losing in heartbreaking fashion to China's Zhang Zhizhen, who saved three match points to become the first Chinese player to reach the quarterfinals at an ATP Masters 1000.

Fritz's run to the last 16 moved him up one place to No. 9 in the ATP rankings, ahead of Felix Auger-Aliassime. With just 10 points to defend this week in Rome, he has a chance to rise even higher with another deep run in Italy.


Paul, Shelton lead Challenger charge

Tommy Paul reached the singles final at the ATP Challenger 175 in Aix-en-Provence, France, losing to Andy Murray, while Ben Shelton reached the semifinals at the Challenger 175 in Cagliari, Italy. At the Challenger 75 in Gwangju, Korea, Chris Eubanks reached the singles semis while Evan King and Reese Stalder claimed the doubles crown.


On the women's side, Elizabeth Mandlik was a singles finalist at the WTA 125 in Reus, Spain, where Lauren Davis made the semis and Caty McNally reached the quarters.


At the USTA Pro Circuit W100 event in Bonita Springs, Fla., Kayla Day defeated Ann Li, 6-2, 6-2, in an all-American singles final, with Caroline Dolehide making the semis, and Kaitlin Quevedo and Sachia Vickey reaching the quarters. There was also an all-American doubles final at the event, with Makenna Jones and Jamie Loeb edging Ashlyn Krueger and Robin Montgomery, 5-7, 6-4, 10-2.


Team USA wins bronze in quad event at World Team Cup

The American team of David Wagner, Andrew Bogdanov and Steven Baxter won the bronze medal at the 2023 BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Vilamoura, Portugal, with Wagner and Bogdanov clinching third place with a doubles win on Friday.


Read more on Quads win bronze after thriller vs. Japan


The American women finished sixth at the event, with the men coming in seventh, while the junior team won the silver medal.

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