Unseeded Sloane Stephens Wins US Open for First Major Title
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 9, 2017
(September 9, 2017) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – In an all-American women’s final, unseeded 24-year-old Sloane Stephens dominated countrywoman and friend, 15th seed Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0 in 61 minutes to win the US Open title, her first major crown.
Stephens had a 75% first serve percentage. She hit 10 winners with just six unforced errors. She played steadily from the back court not letting anything get past her. Keys hit 30 unforced errors and could not break her opponent going 0-3 on break point chances.
Stephens made just six unforced errors in the entire match. “I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before.” she said. “That’s a stat. Snaps for me,”
Stephens broke Keys five times in match, in the fifth and ninth games of the first set and in the second, fourth and sixth games of the second set.
This was only the seventh time in the Open Era, and the second time at the US Open, that two first-time finalists have met in a major final. This also was the first all-American US Open final since 2002, when Serena Williams defeated her sister Venus.
Stephens was off the tour for 11 month due to surgery on her foot. She returned to the tour at Wimbledon and began August with a ranking of 957 in the world. She reached the final four of Cincinnati and Toronto. With her US Open win, her ranking will rise No. 17 in the world as of Monday. She came into the tournament ranked No. 83. She is one of five unseeded women to win a major title. The last unseeded US Open winner was Kim Clijsters in 2009, who had just come out of retirement.
Embed from Getty Images “Sloane is truly one of my favorite people, and to get to play her was really special,” Keys said during the trophy presentation. “Obviously, I didn’t play my best tennis today and was disappointed, but Sloane, being the great friend that she was, was very supportive. If there’s someone I have to lose to today, I’m glad it’s her.” “I had surgery January 23… I would have thought (winning US Open was) impossible.” “If it could have been a draw, would be best. Yes, that’s what real friendship is,” Stephens said during the trophy presentation. “I should just retire now. I told Maddie, I’m never going to be able to top this,” Stephens quipped. Keys on state of US tennis: “We both have trophies today, so I guess that says a lot.”
“Obviously I didn’t play my best tennis today,” Keys said in her news conference. “I’m really disappointed. But if you told me as I was getting on a plane to go have my second surgery that I could have a Grand Slam finalist trophy in my hands at the end of the year, I think I’d be really happy.
“I think I mostly learned that I’m a fighter. No matter what, I can figure things out. In a couple of days, I will be really happy, but right now still a little bit disappointed.”
“I don’t think I was moving perfectly, but at the same time, I’m not going to take anything away from Sloane” added Keys. “I think she played really well. I don’t think I played great. I think that’s kind of a combination for a disaster for me.
“Yeah, I mean, I’m obviously not happy with how things went out there, but I still fought as hard as I could and I did everything that I could and came up short today.”
On a lighter note, Keys said that she would be going out with Stephens as she celebrates her win. “She can buy me drinks, all of the drinks,” Keys laughed. “I was invited. The hint was, like, you should buy me a bag or something tomorrow.”
“When I had surgery, I was not thinking that I would be anywhere near a US Open title,” confessed Stephens in her news conference. “Nor did I think I was going to be anywhere near the top 100. I was worried about my protected ranking, and I was worried about using my protected ranking to get in here. I used both of them already for Grand Slams and tournaments and to be able to play. I was thinking about all the wrong things.
“Once I kind of let that go and just realized that whatever is meant to be is going to be, that I worked hard to get here and, you know, that’s that, then I think a lot of that stress was relieved and I was able to just play free and run and compete and just get out there and get after it every match.
“I mean, there is no words to describe how I got here, the process it took or anything like that, because if you told someone this story, they’d be, like, That’s insane.
“I’m just happy to be here.”
Th winner was asked about if she was playing freer with less pressure since her return.
“Maybe. I think it was just the joy of being able to get on the court again and compete, and then being able to play well and compete at a high level.
“I think I went from just super excited to be on the court to super excited I was playing well to super excited I just won the US Open.”
“I don’t know,” Stephens said about how long it will take her to sink in about being the US Open champion. “It’s probably going to take a couple weeks, months, I don’t know. It’s like so not real. I feel this is a dream. Like, am I just going to wake up and be, like, it didn’t happen?
“I don’t know. Look at that thing. That’s incredible. I mean — I don’t know. I just think it’s very cool. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but hopefully in a little while once I, like, am able to lay down and relax and think about it, I’ll realize that I really am the US Open champion.”
So what’s next for Stephens in terms of schedule: “I’m honestly not sure. Because I was worried about using my protected ranking to be able to get into the tournament, so now it’s, like, looking a little different. I don’t know. Like, maybe — I don’t know. I have no idea.
“I was, like, literally horrified I wasn’t going to be able to get into a lot of tournaments. Now my ranking is higher than my protected ranking. So that changes things a little bit.
“I’m going to be, like, seeded at tournaments again. I don’t know. It’s so exciting, right? How things change so quickly.”
Does winning a major make one more hungry for another one? Stephens was quick to say to the reporter who asked the question, “Of course, Girl. Did you see that check that lady handed me?” Everyone in the interview room burst out in laughter.
She added: “Like, yes. Man, if that doesn’t make you want to play tennis, I don’t know what will.”
Asked she felt bad about handing her friend a second set bagel, Stephens responded: “Bad for her? She was in the finals, too. What do you mean? Did you see the check she’s about to get?”
“I’m sure she’ll be just fine.”
After the news conference, the USTA had Stephens hand out a trophy to her coach, Kamau Murray. This is a new tradition the US Open has started this year for all of the winners.
— Tennis Panorama News (@TennisNewsTPN) September 9, 2017
More to follow….
In March @SloaneStephens was in a wheelchair holding a Tennis Channel camera 🎥
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) September 9, 2017