The WTA Singles ranked 83rd seeded Sloane Stephens knocks out of U.S. Open 2017, losing to fellow American finalist Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0. Stephens women’s doubles career record of 2019 crowned as latest champion of women’s singles tennis titled U.S Open 2017.
It was springtime in the United States, and the women’s tennis tour was in full swing, with the clay-court season underway. Kamau Murray received a call in April from his injured protégé Sloane Stephens, who explained that she was ready to start practicing.
Murray, surprised at how soon the call had come after Stephens’s foot surgery in late January, said he told her, “O.K., call me when you can walk.’”
Nonetheless, they were soon on a court at U.C.L.A. in early May, with Stephens sitting on a wooden table with a racket in her right hand as Murray tossed her balls. He said he then had her sit on a backless office chair with wheels, so she could roll around and hit some more.
Stephens was not able to stand and hit until May 16. Even then, she was not yet allowed to run.
Neither of them could have imagined then that she was actually on the verge of winning her first Grand Slam singles title.
“Impossible, I would say,” Stephens said as she stood in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday with a United States Open trophy in her hands.
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Even tennis, a sport where comebacks are the coin of the realm, has rarely seen a revival quite like this. Stephens, a 24-year-old with an incandescent grin and a potent blend of offensive and defensive skills, was ranked 957th early last month after having returned to the tour in July.
Saturday, she beat the No. 15-seeded Madison Keys, her American contemporary, 6-3, 6-0, in just 61 minutes in the U.S. Open final.
Laughing outside the locker room shortly after Stephens’s victory, Murray said he would not have believed in May this result would come.
“You always expect to play well and try hard and give a good effort, which she has been doing very consistently,” he said. “So long as you do that, you put yourself in a position to win, but to win this many matches so soon, she’s blessed.”
You do earn a lot of your luck in tennis, and Stephens could have been overwhelmed by the occasion. Saturday’s match was the first major singles final for both Stephens and Keys, who have been friends since their junior days and have played on Fed Cup teams and Olympic teams together.
They practiced together before this tournament, too, but this match was an entirely new level of shared experience. Stephens’s resurgence has been astonishing in its speed, but Keys has made a convincing comeback of her own after two operations on her left wrist in the past 10 months.
Tabbed as a future No. 1 by Serena Williams, Keys, 22, is arguably the most powerful player in women’s tennis. Stephens is arguably the quickest, but she also has ample punching power.
And while the explosive Keys struggled with her emotions and her accuracy, Stephens often looked as if she could have been raking sand in a Zen garden. She prevailed convincingly in a duel that has a chance to be replayed on the game’s big stages in the years to come.