SINGAPORE — In a match between the final two US Open champions, Sloane Stephens got here out on high.
The 2017 champion beat Naomi Osaka 7-5, Four-6, 6-1 Monday at the WTA Finals, the season-ending event for the highest eight gamers in the world.
Both gamers are making their debut appearances at the event, however Stephens gave the impression to be extra composed, whereas Osaka, who grew to become the primary Japanese citizen to win a Grand Slam title final month in New York, by no means appeared comfy.
“I’m just really happy to get through and play a good, competitive match,” Stephens mentioned on courtroom after the match. “I never gave up. I knew she’s been playing well and I’d have to play really good tennis to beat her.”
Both gamers struggled to carry serve. Osaka was damaged on 7 of 19 break-point alternatives, whereas Stephens was damaged on Four of 12.
Stephens entered the event with 33 wins this season, the least of any of the eight qualifiers. She reached her second profession Grand Slam closing at this yr’s French Open, and received the Miami title.
Osaka frequently confirmed her frustration through the match. When she didn’t capitalize on 4 break factors in the fourth recreation of the second set, she made a visual shrugging gesture with each fingers.
Stephens gifted the second set to Osaka when she double-faulted on a second set level in the 10th recreation. But Osaka gave the impression to be mentally fatigued and solely managed to carry serve in the third recreation of the ultimate set.
Nevertheless, Osaka was inspired in understanding she’ll play at least two extra matches in the round_robin format.
“I took my five minutes of being really sad,” Osaka said. “I simply tried to suppose that you simply study extra if you lose, so what can I study from this match and attempt to apply it to the subsequent match?
“I believe, in a manner, you could solely get higher each match you play.”
Kiki Bertens, who certified for the draw when No. 1 Simona Halep withdrew with a herniated disk in her again, fought again to beat high seed Angelique Kerber 1-6, 6-3, 6-Four.
“I used to be actually glad to show this match round,” Bertens mentioned. “I had just a little (on_court) chat with my coach when it wasn’t going so effectively. We determined I ought to go just a little bit extra for my pictures and be extra aggressive.”
The first seven video games of the third set had been service breaks earlier than Bertens held for a 5-3 lead. Kerber, a finalist right here in 2016, lastly held in the ninth recreation, however could not forestall Bertens from serving out the match.
“I began very well and he or she began enjoying higher and higher after which I dropped just a little bit with my depth,” Kerber mentioned. “In the third set I had so many probabilities and I could not take it.”
Kerber performs Osaka and Stephens takes on Bertens in the second group matches on Wednesday.