WTA Tour

Stephens claims first WTA title

2015-08-10 08:17
Sloane Stephens (Getty Images)

Washington - Sloane Stephens sat at a table for her post-match news conference, eyed the big glass trophy sitting at arm's length, and asked, "What happens to this?"

Forgive the 22-year-old American for not knowing. She's never been given championship hardware at a professional tournament before.

Stephens earned a WTA title for the first time on Sunday, overwhelming Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia 6-1, 6-2 in the final of the hardcourt Citi Open.

"Nothing was rushed. Nothing was given to me. I had to work for everything. It was just nice that all of the hard work and everything I've put into it - now I can say that I have a tournament title," Stephens said. "Everything happens when it's supposed to happen."

It was her first final as a pro.

Entering this tune-up for the US Open, she owned a .685 career winning percentage at Grand Slam tournaments, including getting to the second week in seven appearances, with a semi-final showing at the Australian Open and quarter-final run at Wimbledon, both in 2013. But at lesser events, her winning percentage was only .524.

At Washington, for example, she was just 3-4 before this year, with three first-round exits. But Stephens did not lose a set during her four victories this week, highlighted by a semi-final win over 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur on Saturday.

Neither of Sunday's finalists was seeded; Stephens is ranked 35th, and Pavlyuchenkova is 40th.

Stephens raced to a 3-0 lead within 10 minutes by taking 15 of the first 21 points and never looked back. She broke Pavlyuchenkova five times while saving 5 of 6 break points she faced and compiled an impressive ratio of 20 winners to nine unforced errors.

At her news conference, a reporter mentioned that Stephens has been considered the best women's tennis player without a title for quite some time.

"Now you'll have somebody else to talk about," Stephens replied. "I'm sure there's someone else, so I will pass that torch on to whoever's behind me."


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