Friday, October 26, 2018

Stephens stops Kerber to reach semis in WTA Finals

   Sloane Stephens continued her domination of Angelique Kerber today to reach the semifinals in her first WTA Finals.
   The fifth-seeded Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product, dismissed the top-seeded Kerber, a 30-year-old German left-hander, 6-3, 6-3 to finish 3-0 in the Red Group in Singapore.
   After losing her first meeting against Kerber, at Indian Wells in 2012, Stephens has won their last five matches without dropping a set.
   Also today, eighth-seeded Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands led 6-3 when third-seeded Naomi Osaka of Japan retired with a hamstring injury. Bertens finished 2-1 in the Red Group, followed by Kerber at 1-2 and Osaka at 0-3.
   None of the top four seeds reached the semifinals. No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki (1-2), the defending champion from Denmark, and No. 4 Petra Kvitova (0-3) of the Czech Republic were eliminated Thursday in the White Group.
   In Saturday's semifinals, Bertens will meet sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina (3-0 in the White Group) of Ukraine not before 1 a.m. PDT, followed by Stephens against seventh-seeded Karolina Pliskova (2-1 in the White Group) of the Czech Republic in the White Group) not before 4:30 a.m. PDT.
   Bertens and Svitolina have split two career matches, both on hardcourts. In their last meeting, Bertens won 6-4, 6-3 in the quarterfinals at Cincinnati en route to the title in August.
   Stephens is 2-1 against Pliskova, winning on a hardcourt and grass and losing on clay.
   It will be the fourth consecutive year in which the champion of the WTA Finals did not win a Grand Slam singles title. Dominika Cibulkova and Agnieszka Radwanska won the crown in 2016 and 2015, respectively.
   In fact, Stephens is the only semifinalist this year who has ever won a major singles championship. She broke through in last year's U.S. Open.

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