WTA Finals: Sloane Stephens beats Naomi Osaka in Singapore
26 October, 2018, 06:29
Stephens, who won the 2017 U.S. Open after spending 11 months out with a foot injury, said she could sympathise with Osaka after the 21-year-old complained of exhaustion in her two tournament appearances since last month's triumph in NY.
Osaka rarely gets animated on court, yet the world No 4 spent much of the match chastising herself over unforced errors and even sank to her knees when she was broken for a second time in the deciding set.
Kerber saved 13 of the 18 break points she faced, including five in the final game of the first set, to improve to 1-1 at the season-ending tournament.
The 2017 victor defeated the fellow debutant 7-5 4-6 6-1 in two hours and 24 minutes in Singapore.
The American struggled mid-match but fought back from an early break in the third set to prevail 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-3 in two hours and 20 minutes.
Japan's Naomi Osaka dropped her first red group match at the WTA Finals on Monday, falling 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 to American Sloane Stephens in a battle between the last two U.S. Open champions.
But Osaka is not one to back down and the 21-year-old Japanese broke straight back to level the contest at 4-4, thanks to some sublime stroke-making aided by a couple of double-faults from her opponent.
With a slice of good fortune - Osaka opted not to challenge an overruled service call that would have made it 1-1 having lost serve in the previous game - Stephens raced through the third set to make a winning start in Singapore.
"It was a slow start but I was really happy to turn around this match".
She came out on top of three breaks of serve to send the contest into a decider when the American double-faulted on set point.
World number six Stephens has moved into pole position after her second straight victory.
However, she insisted that she has no regrets over her defeat, saying, "Usually after I lose, I have very specific things that I think would have changed the match".
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. "It can only get better (with) every match you play".
"We played a lot of great long rallies, and she played a lot of great short points". The Dutch player went for broke and ran the Wimbledon champion around the court to take control of the contest.
Osaka finished the match with 50 unforced errors and 42 winners, while Kerber had 30 unforced errors and 24 winners. "In the third set I had so many chances and I couldn't take it".
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