NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, USA (SEPTEMBER 9, 2017)(IMG/USTA) – Sloane Stephens stayed composed throughout an all American U.S. Open final and played near-perfect tennis to win her maiden grand slam title with a 6-3 6-0 victory against Madison Keys on Saturday (September 9).
The 24-year-old, back this summer from almost a year off the courts because of a foot injury, was never in trouble as her defensive play derailed the 15th-seeded Keys, who was playing with a heavily bandaged right thigh.
“I had surgery Jan 23 and if someone told me then that I would win the U.S. Open – it’s impossible I would say,” said Stephens.
In the first all American U.S. Open women’s final since Serena Williams beat her sister Venus in 2002, Stephens made only six unforced errors to frustrate Keys.
She sealed a straightforward win on her third match point when Keys sent yet another forehand into the net.
Stephens welcomed the biggest victory of her career with a low-key smile, going into the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands to hug her coach, Kamau Murray.
Stephens, who will pocket a record $3.7 million cheque, underwent foot surgery in February and made her competitive comeback at Wimbledon.
Simply happy to be running around on courts, Stephens did a lot of running on Saturday to deny the 22-year-old Keys in what turned out to be a one-sided contest.
Keys showed no signs of nerves in the opening game, serving two aces and sending Stephens chasing balls left and right. Stephens was equally composed, holding to love on her first service game.
Stephens played her usual defensive tennis, forcing her opponent to make the extra shot and testing her patience.
She was rewarded with two break points in the fifth game, converting the first one when Keys again failed to wait for the right moment to accelerate and fired a forehand long.
Stephens held comfortably and bagged the set on her second occasion, Keys hitting a backhand long, her 17th unforced error — compared to Stephens’ only two.
The 24-year-old Stephens then dominated, racking up 3-0 games in the second set.
Keys fell 4-0 down when she hit a double fault and although she had her first break points of the match in the fifth game, Stephens held.
Keys saved the first championship point, and then was impressive as she saved the second with a 19-shot rally that sent Stephens lunging after the ball.
But the third championship point saw Keys put the ball into the net for her 30th unforced error of the day.
Stephens jokingly told the crowd she might as well retire immediately as she would never be able to top the achievement.