2018 Year in Review:
Stephens’ career year
Sally Milano | December 11, 2018
As 2018 draws to a close, USTA.com is taking a look back at the Top 15 storylines, headlines and highlights from the year in American tennis. Now up, we look at Sloane Stephens' stellar year.
It was a big year in tennis for Americans, with 11 men and 11 women ending 2018 in the world’s Top 100. Among the top highlights for U.S. players was the outstanding performance of Sloane Stephens, who turned her game around to reach a career-high ranking, post career-best results at several of the world’s biggest tournaments and finish the year as the top-ranked American.
After winning the women’s singles title at the US Open in 2017, Stephens was mired in a slump and didn’t win a match on tour for five months. But things began to turn around for the 25-year-old Florida native in February, when she posted a quarterfinal result in Acapulco, Mexico.
The following month, she was clearly back on top of her game, as she captured the singles title at the Miami Open, defeating Garbiñe Muguruza, Angelique Kerber and Victoria Azarenka in succession, before topping Jelena Ostapenko, 7-6, 6-1, for the championship and then breaking into the world’s Top 10 for the first time.
Two months after her Miami win, the then-world No. 10 American reached the final of the French Open, where she fell to world No. 1 Simona Halep, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Stephens, who defeated fellow American Madison Keys in the semifinals in a rematch of the 2017 US Open championship, became the first American woman, other than Venus or Serena Williams, to reach the Roland Garros final since Jennifer Capriati achieved the feat in 2001.
Stephens cracked the Top 5 after the French Open and climbed to a career-high ranking of No. 3 on July 16. She continued her solid play over the summer with a strong showing on the US Open Series, including an appearance in the Rogers Cup final in Montreal, where she again lost to Halep, and a Round-of-16 result in Cincinnati. In September, she fell a few rounds short of defending her title at the US Open, reaching the quarterfinals at the year’s final Slam.
With her consistent results during the year, Stephens qualified for the WTA Finals in Singapore for the first time in her career. She went a perfect 3-0 in round-robin play and easily defeated Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber in the semifinals, before losing in the final to Elina Svitolina.
“Obviously, going into 2019, I'll take a lot of confidence,” said Stephens, who reached four finals and earned over $5 million in prize money in 2018. “[I plan to] just have a great offseason and just look forward to getting back out there in January.”
For more American tennis highlights from 2018, be sure to check out our Year in Review page here.