SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Sloane Stephens was delighted to have started her debut WTA Finals tournament with a hard-fought 7-5 4-6 6-1 victory over Naomi Osaka on Monday, especially after the American dropped a tight second set when she had appeared in total control.
Stephens, Osaka’s predecessor as U.S. Open champion, stayed calm throughout the contest, adopting a patient approach from the baseline before unleashing her devastating forehand to keep her Japanese opponent pinned at the back of the court.
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“No, I kept playing positive and strong,” the world number six told reporters of her approach to the deciding set of their Red Group round robin opener.
“I mean, I didn’t play bad in the second. Just kind of got away from me. I tried to regroup as best I could and played just like I was playing before.
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“I thought I played a really good match. I played solid from start to finish. Obviously playing someone with a lot of confidence is always a tough task, but I think that I played well and I kept a good attitude. So I was pleased with that.”
Stephens, who won the 2017 U.S. Open after spending 11 months out with a foot injury, said she could sympathize with Osaka after...
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