WTA Finals: Sloane show stuns Kerber
US tennis ace Stephens registers convincing 6-3, 6-3 win over top-seed Angelique; sets up semis clash with Pliskova
A confident Sloane Stephens stormed into a semi slot at the WTA Finals with a convincing straight sets victory against top seed Angelique Kerber yesterday, joining fellow debutant Kiki Bertens in the knockout stage.
The former US Open champ continued her unbeaten run in Singapore with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph, her fifth straight-sets victory in a row over Kerber. After topping Red Group, Stephens will play Czech Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals. For the first time since 2003, none of the top four seeds advanced to the semi-finals of the WTA Finals.
"I stayed solid the whole time knowing there was a lot on the line," Stephens said. "I knew it was going to be a battle and just tried to play as hard as I could." The match started tensely, with Kerber unable to convert seven break points in Stephens' first three service games, and the missed opportunities proved costly.
An energetic Stephens made her pay by converting all three of her break points to draw first blood. The American impressively counter-attacked and pinpointed the lines to frustrate Kerber, who survived an injury scare when she landed awkwardly midway through the first set.
Kerber was under pressure in the second set and saved seven break points in the fourth game before cracking under the pressure. There was still fight left in the German, who broke straight back but continued to struggle on serve. "If the court was a little bit faster, maybe the result would be on my side today," she said. "I made a little bit more mistakes than usual," Kerber said.
Bertens faces unbeaten Elina Svitolina after a hamstring injury forced Naomi Osaka's retirement, earlier, yesterday. She won the first set 6-3 in 47 minutes before US Open champion Osaka, who wiped away tears, forfeited the match. "I hurt my left hamstring in the first match. It was getting worse every time I played," Osaka said.
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