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At long last, Stephens makes WTA finals match

By: Allan Blanks

Sloane Stephens has had a lot of success on a tennis court but has never been in a WTA Tournament Finals. Until now. She's earned that spot after her victory over

Sloane Stephens has had a lot of success on a tennis court but has never been in a WTA Tournament Finals. Until now. She’s earned that spot after her victory over Sam Stosur.

Washington D.C. – After five years and 83 attempts, Sloane Stephens will make her first WTA finals appearance as the 35th ranked contender knocked off the WTA player of the month, Sam Stosur in straight sets, 7­-6 (4), 6­-0.

“Finally, the long awaited final,” Stephens said. “Now people can stop talking about me, so that’s one good thing. I’m really happy, I’m happy to do it here [Citi Open], this is one of my favorite tournaments, and I’m really pleased with that.”

Tonight, the American had lots to be pleased with.

Offensively, Stephens won 72 total points, produced 41 service points, and converted four break point opportunities. Defensively, Stephens’s quickness frustrated Stosur, and led to 36 unforced errors. Essentially, Stephens had all the answers, as she commanded the pace, dictated the points, and relentlessly attacked lines.

In the first set, Stosur sought to impose her strength, and pin the American deep behind the baseline. However, this tactic proved ineffective, as Stephens revealed her ability to deliver powerful forehands and penetrating backhands.

The Australian posted 55 total points, six aces, and generated 22 winners to Stephens’ 12.

This semi­final showdown featured two superior athletes, who aggressively struck the ball, and waged war from the baseline. Throughout the contest, it was rare for either contender back away from the baseline.

It wasn’t till late in the first tiebreak, in which Stephens briefly retreated behind the baseline, and dared Stosur to produce a winner. This ploy was short­lived, as the Australian caught the American out of position and directed a shallow forehand blast.

Stephens quickly regrouped, reestablished her aggression and seized control of the tiebreak, with electrifying forehands and booming serves.

“It was a battle at the baseline,” Stephens said. “I was happy to come through, I thought I played really solid, which is good for me.”

The solid play and intense focus of Stephens, granted her the first set.

The American had the momentum, and raised her game to a greater level. In the final set of play, Stephens won 80­percent of her first serve points, claimed three of her four break points, and reduced her unforced errors from 12­-4.

Although Stosur slashed her unforced errors in half, it was not enough to slow down the persistent play of Stephens.

The American closed the contest with an emphatic smash to the opposite court.

Making the most of every point has been the key to Stephens success. When the 35th ranked player isn’t running down shots, she’s raising awareness for children.

“Soles4souls is really important to me,” Stephens said. “All of us players can contribute and I’ve done my best to recruit every single player to give their shoes at the end of the tournament. It’s worked out pretty well, we’ve filled up a couple of boxes, I think it’s a great initiative, and we’re starting to get more and more shoes. Hopefully we can do this at more tournaments.”

Stephens determination on the court, and advocacy off the court, has provided deeper meaning to the Citi Open hopeful.

“I love it here [at the Citi Open],” Stephens said. “Hopefully I can come back for many more years.”

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