Published: Fri, October 26, 2018
Sports | By Toni Houston

WTA Finals: Sloane Stephens beats Naomi Osaka in Singapore

WTA Finals: Sloane Stephens beats Naomi Osaka in Singapore

On Monday (22 October), facing the current US Open champion and overwhelming crowd favourite Naomi Osaka in the round-robin stage of the season-ending tournament at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, the 25-year-old American stayed patient, waiting for her less experienced opponent to make errors and picking the right time to launch her own winners.

"I just tried my very best from the first point in the third set and it didn't go my way immediately, but I just kept battling", Stephens said after the match.

It still took three sets, but in the end, the usually stoic Osaka was throwing her racket and sighing in frustration as Stephens ground out a compelling 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 victory in 2hrs 23min.

The third set was a war of attrition with both players stretching every sinew to hold serve until Osaka cracked first in the seventh game, gifting Kerber the crucial break with a slew of poor shot selections from 40-15 ahead.

Singapore -Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens overcame gallant Kiki Bertens in another marathon match at the WTA Finals, a result which breathes life into Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka's teetering Singapore campaign.

She ended up winning the match.

"I think one thing I can be really proud of is that I turned that match around, that I played more aggressive, going a little bit out of my comfort zone to get a win".

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Osaka followed up her win at Flushing Meadows with a run to the Pan Pacific Open final in Tokyo and China Open semi-finals but the 21-year-old admitted that she had started to experience problems with her serve in Beijing.

To say it "went a little better" is an understatement with Bertens breaking her German opponent twice to level the contest before she emerged from the topsy-turvy decider with her 11th victory over a top-10 player this season.

Bertens capitalised on a rapid drop in intensity from Stephens to reel off four games in a row on her way to taking the second set.

"I just think here for some reason, I can't get the timing of the ball on the court, on the groundstrokes or the serves".

Bertens qualified just days before the tournament after world number one Simona Halep pulled out due to injury, which bumped up Kerber to top billing.

"I want to give them (fans) a good match to watch".

"We played a really tough and competitive match so its always an honor to share the court with somebody that good", Stephens added. I don't really think you can do that against her, so definitely I think that's what made the difference. She once again broke a flustered Kerber to take it into a third set for the first time between the pair.

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