Saturday, January 9, 2016

Stephens wins Auckland title under new coach

Sloane Stephens hired Kamau Murray as her coach after recently
splitting with Nick Saviano, a former Stanford All-American.
2012 photo by Paul Bauman
   A coaching change paid immediate dividends for Sloane Stephens.
   The 22-year-old American, seeded fifth, beat unseeded Julia Goerges of Germany 7-5, 6-2 on Friday (PST) to win the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand.
   Earlier Friday, Stephens completed a rain-delayed 6-2, 7-6 (3) victory over third-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
   Stephens earned her second career title. She prevailed in Washington, D.C., last summer.
   Nick Saviano, a 59-year-old former Stanford All-American, announced last week that he was splitting with Stephens after one year. Stephens, who improved from No. 37 to No. 30 under Saviano, hired Kamau Murray as her new coach.
   "Coaching Sloane this past year at the major events and having her achieve outstanding results, in particular winning her first WTA tour event in Washington, D.C., was extremely rewarding and enjoyable," Saviano, who had coached Eugenie Bouchard for eight years, said in a Dec. 28 press release on his website. "She has been a joy for me to work with since she was 11 years old. I expect her to have a great year in 2016 and wish her all the best."
   In 2013, Stephens reached the semifinals of the Australian Open, upsetting Serena Williams, and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. She climbed to a career-high No. 11 in October of that year.
   Stephens' late father, John Stephens, played running back for the New England Patriots.

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