Sunday, September 10, 2017

Poised Stephens routs Keys for U.S. Open title

Sloane Stephens, playing at Indian Wells last year, won the U.S. Open only
nine months after undergoing foot surgery. Photo by Mal Taam
   The occasion got to Madison Keys but not Sloane Stephens.
   Showing remarkable poise in the first Grand Slam final for both players, Stephens routed her close friend 6-3, 6-0 in 61 minutes on Saturday in the U.S. Open.
   It was the first all-American women's final at Flushing Meadows since Serena Williams defeated Venus Williams in 2002 and the most lopsided since Kim Clijsters trounced Vera Zvonareva 6-2, 6-1 in 2010.
   Stephens, who grew up in Fresno and still has relatives there, made a remarkable comeback from January foot surgery. She became only the second unseeded woman to win the U.S. championships in the Open Era, which began in 1968, and the first American woman not named Williams to capture the title since Lindsay Davenport in 1968.
   "There are no words to describe how I got here -- the process it took or anything like that," the 24-year-old Stephens, who was born in Plantation, Fla., told reporters, "because if you told someone this story, they'd be like, 'That's insane.' "
   Keys committed 30 unforced errors to Stephens' six.
   "I definitely think my play today came down to nerves and all of that," said the 22-year-old Keys, who won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford last month, "and I just don't think I handled the occasion perfectly."
   Keys, a right-hander with a two-handed backhand, had surgery on her left wrist in November and again in June.
   For the first time in the Open Era, two unseeded women won a Grand Slam singles title in a calendar year. Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia captured the French Open two days after her 20th birthday.
   Stephens began playing tennis at the advanced age of 9 in Fresno. She moved to Boca Raton, Fla., two years later to train at the Evert Tennis Academy.
   Stephens' father, John Stephens, was named the 1988 NFL Offensive Player of the Year as a running back for the New England Patriots, and her mother, Sybil Smith, was Boston University's first All-American in women's swimming. John Stephens died in a one-car accident in his native Louisiana in 2009, days before Sloane played in her first U.S. Open match.
   Junior boys -- Top-seeded Axel Geller, a Stanford freshman from Argentina, beat Timofey Skatov of Russia 6-1, 7-6 (7) to reach his second consecutive Grand Slam final.
   Geller, who lost to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain at Wimbledon, will face second-seeded Yibing Wu of China. Wu edged Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4).
   Men's Collegiate Invitational -- Tom Fawcett, a Stanford senior, topped Michael Redlicki, who completed his eligibility at Arkansas in May, 7-6 (4), 6-7 (5), 6-4 for the title. None of the eight players in the event were seeded.

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