Sloane Stephens captures first Premier Mandatory title — WTA Miami

Miami Open: Collins lays out idol Venus to set up semi-final clash with Ostapenko

Sloane Stephens emphatically ended her miserable post-US Open run by lifting the second-biggest title of her career to date in Miami, as she defeated Jelena Ostapenko in the final.

However, making the most of her time in Key Biscayne for the last time before the tournament moves, she has been tested, first by Monica Niculescu and then in the semi-final against Azarenka, both times coming from a set down to make the final, and with it a Top 10 debut when the new rankings come out on Monday.

Roland Garros champion Ostapenko of Latvia came into the match without having dropped a set or lost a tiebreak during the entire Miami fortnight, but both streaks came to an end at the hands of US Open victor Stephens. 'Obviously I didn't start the year off great so to have a good result here is really important.

While the history and memories from Key Biscayne will be hard to replicate, the future of the Miami Open is bright as a new chapter begins next year at the nearby Hard Rock Stadium. I have had some fantastic experiences here, and I'll definitely miss it.

Stephens appeared headed to a relatively routine first-set win when she grabbed a 5-3 lead, but Ostapenko managed a rare service hold to narrow the lead to 5-4 and then evened the set in the following game by breaking the American's serve.

Serving at 5-1, 30-0 in the second set, two points from the title, Stephens ran down a pair of hard-hit ground strokes from her opponent.

The crowd favourite had just six winners, compared with 25 for Ostapenko, but 48 unforced errors by the Latvian and Stephens' relentless defence were the difference.

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To pick apart the weaknesses in French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko's game, you need a few specific skills.

"I always play well in the US, I don't know why, I think it's because of you guys", she told the Miami crowd afterwards.

She wobbled again leading 6-2 in the pivotal tiebreaker, hitting unforced errors to lose consecutive set points.

"I'm just starting to finally put all of the pieces together".

"I knew that I was just going to have to run a lot of balls down", said the victor.

In the span of two weeks, Sloane Stephens definitely enjoyed her familiar surroundings. A year ago she won the French Open and was runner-up in Charleston. "I just needed a little bit of a reminder to just go for it if I wanted to take the title". "As long I did that, and took my opportunities when I had them".

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