Stephens downs Ostapenko to win Miami Open

Miami Open 2018: Sloane Stephens shines again in the US to earn place in top 10

Miami Open 2018: Sloane Stephens shines again in the US to earn place in top 10

Sloane Stephens defeated Jelena Ostapenko 7-6, 6-1 to win the Miami Open, her second biggest title ever after Us Open. Stephens, a South Florida native who lives in Fort Lauderdale, won the last women's final on Key Biscayne.

Stephens (now 6-0 in her career in finals) entered the tourney just 3-4 this year, and the 20-year-old Ostapenko was just 4-7 before failing to lose a set or tiebreak for the entire tournament entering Saturday. She'll make her debut in the Top Ten on Monday at No. 9.

Stephens will next be in action in just a few days at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, where she is the fourth seed and where she won the title in 2016.

Stephens endured a bad slump after winning her first major but has responded superbly and this first Miami title has set up well for the clay challenges ahead. She did so in style, to love, to win her first title since the US Open and a place in the top 10. The match began with four straight breaks, and continued in that topsy-turvy vein for the rest of the first set.

Ostapenko saved four set points but couldn't halt Stephens as the Latvian lost her first tiebreak - and first set - of the tournament when Stephens' return pulled Ostapenko wide to the backhand and the Latvian netted. That's Ostapenko's favorite shot, but Stephens forced her to play it from well above her shoulder, rather than in her strike zone.

"I'm really looking forward to it".

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The first set was incredibly messy, with neither Stephens or Ostapenko, who had beaten the likes of Petra Kvitova on her way to only her second final since her Roland Garros victory, playing at their best.

Ostapenko hit 25 winners.

Of course, she went on to have a return to form on the spring hard courts on US soil, with wins over Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko to win the Miami title.

"Half the people I didn't even know", she said. 'Obviously I didn't start the year off great so to have a good result here is really important. In the point described above, Ostapenko had a wide-open court for her last shot, but Stephens robbed her of the time she needed to hit it.

Stephens and the No. 6-seeded Ostapenko, last year's French Open champion, battled nearly exclusively from the baseline, and the quality of play was often ragged. It seems that she's at her best when she has no expectations of success and is just trying to find her way back to her normal level of play.

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