Sunday, October 28, 2018

Svitolina subdues Stephens for title in WTA Finals

   Five of the last seven women's Grand Slam singles champions have been first-time winners.
   Elina Svitolina could add to that list in 2019.
   The 24-year-old Ukrainian, seeded sixth, defeated 25-year-old Fresno product Sloane Stephens, seeded fifth, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in 2 hours, 23 minutes today to win the WTA Finals in Singapore.
   "This is a very special moment for me in my career, and it will give me plenty of confidence for the season coming ahead," Svitolina said.
   Svitolina went 5-0, including four three-set victories, in the tournament for the biggest title of her career. She pocketed $2,209,000 and evened her career record against Stephens at 2-2 (1-1 in 2018). Stephens, who played in the tournament for the first time, collected $1,049,000.
   Svitolina finished the year with four singles titles, also winning Brisbane, Dubai and Rome. Stephens' only singles crown of 2018 came in Miami.
   Jelena Ostapenko began the run of first-time Grand Slam champions by winning last year's French Open two days after turning 20. Then came Stephens in the U.S. Open, Caroline Wozniacki in the Australian Open, Simona Halep in the French Open and Naomi Osaka in the U.S. Open. The exceptions were Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber at Wimbledon in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
   Second-seeded Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic of France won the doubles title in the WTA Finals, beating top-seeded Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 7-5.
   Babos claimed her second consecutive title in the tournament after pairing with Andrea Hlavackova of the Czech Republic last year in Singapore.
   Babos and Mladenovic shared $500,000, and Krejcikova and Siniakova split $260,000.
   The teams combined to capture three of this year's four Grand Slam titles. Babos and Mladenovic won the Australian Open for their first major crown together, and Krejcikova and Siniakova became the first pair in 15 years to sweep the French Open and Wimbledon.
   ATP World Tour in Vienna -- Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski of Great Britain won their first ATP title as a team, defeating Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) of Wesley Chapel, Fla., and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France 7-6 (5), 6-3. Both teams were unseeded.
   Both Salisbury and Skupski won doubles titles with other partners in $100,000 Northern California Challengers last year. Salisbury and countryman Brydan Klein triumphed in Stockton, and Skupski and Jonathan Erlich of Israel prevailed in Aptos.
   Skupski also played for the Sacramento-based California Dream of World TeamTennis in 2015, the squad's only year of existence.

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