“I think the tennis is only a game. You can lose. You can win. After that? In life, there are much more important things than tennis.” –Rafael Nadal
I mistook Sloane Stephens for Venus Williams because of her attire the night she ousted Williams in the semifinal.
They were almost identical except for their muscles in the arms and legs–and the way the responded to cheers from the crowd.
Williams, a two-time champion, was the favorite although both are Americans.
And when Stephens bundled out the highly-touted Williams, I thought she would breeze her way to the US Open title.
On Saturday night, Stephens, 24, did pocket the US Open, trouncing Madison Keys in the final, 6-3, 6-0.
By winning the title in a dominant fashion, Stephens also earned her first ever Major title.
Although she entered as an unseeded player, Stephens put away Anastasija Sevastova, Julia Goerges, Ashleigh Barty, Dominika Cibulkova, Roberta Vinci, Venus Williams, and Keys en route to the championship at the Artur Ashe Stadium.
Stephens did not walk in the park in the first set of her duel with Keys which was close. Keys held serve on her first twon games.
Stephens took the first set, 6-3, scoring a break in the fifth game and then again in the ninth game.
After that, things didn’t open up any for Keys as Stephens held to open the second set, broke Keys, held again, and things weren’t necessarily competitive from there.
Keys lost one break with a double fault in the second set, and though she held on for as long as she could in her final service game, it wasn’t enough.
Stephens actually hit fewer winners than Keys overall but only had six unforced errors, significantly less than Keys’ final tally of 30. Stephens had just 10 winners to Keys’ 18 and hit no aces while Keys had three. James Brady observed that Keys didn’t manage a single break in her three attempts though, while Stephens converted on five of 12.
Making her first appearance in a Grand Slam final, Keys, 22, made it to the fInal by whipping Kaia Kanepi in the quarterfinals and then CoCo Vandeweghe in the semifinal. Keys he had made it to the Australian Open semifinals once before, her previous best performance at a Grand Slam.
Stephens, 24, was also making her first appearance in a Grand Slam final. She made it to the final by beating the heavy favorite Williams. Stephens made it past Williams with an incredible third set performance./WDJ