Sloane Stephens downs Osaka in Singapore

Tyler Owen
October 26, 2018

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 competed really well and I knew I had to play good tennis to beat her", Stephens, the fifth seed, said after the match.

Last minute qualifier Kiki Bertens claimed her first win at the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Finals in Singapore as she defeated world number two and Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber in the first round robin match.

Bertens, only in the eight-player field when world number one Simona Halep withdrew through injury, had been swept aside 6-1 in the first set and was 2-1 down in the second to Kerber when she called on Raemon Sluiter for a tactical debate.

Both players exchanged breaks of serve twice in the first set.

US Open champion Naomi Osaka said she was frustrated with herself after losing her opening WTA Finals match to Sloane Stephens in Singapore yesterday.

Pliskova's coach Rennae Stubbs urged her to "stay disciplined" in the next changeover and the Czech heeded the advice to curb her attacking instincts as she ended Kvitova's tournament by holding serve to take the opener in 41 minutes.

"It was a slow start but I was really happy to turn around this match". I don't really think you can do that against her, so definitely I think that's what made the difference.

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"I think I made more unforced errors than her in the third set", she said.

The second set did not disappoint with a competitive start before the break point chances came out to play.

Bertens is the first woman from the Netherlands to break into the world's top 10, at number nine, since Brenda Schultz-McCarthy in 1996.

Bertens' dug out of a 0-40 hole to snap a string of seven straight breaks in the decider - capping the game with one of her five aces for the match - and later sealed the victory with a forehand victor - her 25th finisher in the match overall.

"At the beginning of the second, it was just like hopefully I can get a few more games".

After a solid hold from Stephens, Osaka was struggling to contain her emotions as she found the net or went long with her increasingly erratic backhand and the American secured her third break of the match to move a game away from taking the set. She once again broke a flustered Kerber to take it into a third set for the first time between the pair.

"When she was hitting good shots, I still got my racket on a lot of the balls and I just made her play an extra ball".

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