SINGAPORE: A confident Sloane Stephens stormed to victory with a commanding third set performance against Japanese sensation Naomi Osaka as the upsets continued at the WTA Finals in Singapore. In an unpredictable encounter, the American overcame a second set stutter to dominate the decider and triumph 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 in two hours and 25 minutes.
Osaka had won 14 of her previous 16 matches to be the in-form player coming into the season finale. But the third seed was wildly inconsistent in the Red Group opener with 46 unforced errors and was broken three times in a third set meltdown.
“I competed really well and I knew I had to play good tennis to beat her,” Stephens, the fifth seed, said after the match. “I just stayed tough and took my opportunities.”
It was a much-anticipated showdown between the past two US Open champions, who were making their WTA Finals debuts. Since her stunning upset of Serena Williams at Flushing Meadows, Osaka’s popularity has surged and she had the crowd on her side at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.—Agencies