Published: Mon, April 02, 2018
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Sloane Stephens Breaks Out of Her Slump With a Win in Miami

Sloane Stephens Breaks Out of Her Slump With a Win in Miami

The triumph will be even sweeter for Stephens today when she makes her long-awaited debut in the top 10 of the world rankings at No. 9.

"I'm definitely happy that I could be the last person to win here".

Mike and Bob Bryan won their 115th doubles title and their biggest in almost two years when they beat Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6 (5), 10-4.

Stephens had shown improved speed as she continued to return Ostapenko's hits, before finally coming alive in attack at 3-1 with a deft drop-shot and a brilliant cross-court victor as the finish line came into sight. She did so in style, to love, to win her first title since the US Open and a place in the top 10. "I always play well in the U.S".

'It's super awesome because growing up in South Florida, a lot of friends and family are here so it's really awesome for me. Ostapenko tried to force through on the forehand wing, but Stephens defended superbly to draw the error and a break.

"It's incredible", Stephens said.

After Stephens went on to break for a 4-3 lead, Ostapenko's coach David Taylor tried to settle her down with a pep talk, pushing her pupil to accelerate through the ball and staying aggressive.

"I always play well in the USA, I don't know why, I think it's because of you guys", she told the Miami crowd afterwards. "I really just focused on myself and made sure that I was the best version of me", she sad.

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. The Latvian then handed Stephens another chance to serve out the first set, though she proceeded to double fault on break point down to take what had been an error-prone set to a tiebreak. Remarkably, Stephens hit just three winners while winning a grueling, 57-minute opening set in a tiebreak. "'Whatever people said, whatever, it is what it is, but now I'm here and I have this handsome trophy, and no one will ever be able to take that away from me, so I'm just going to walk with my head high and, you know, embrace it".

Stephens swept the final six games, clinching one with the shot of the match. That's Ostapenko's favorite shot, but Stephens forced her to play it from well above her shoulder, rather than in her strike zone. When Ostapenko hooked a forehand at a sharp crosscourt angle on the next shot, it looked like the point would finally be hers.

"Half the people I didn't even know", she said.

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