The Summer of Sloane has a Slam.
In a tour de force performance, Sloane Stephens overwhelmed fellow American and No.15 seed Madison Keys, 6-3, 6-0, to win her first Grand Slam title at the 2017 US Open, on Saturday afternoon in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Stephens was never broken in the 60-minute match, as Keys was 0-for-3 on break point opportunities, which all came during a single game late in the match. Stephens put on a calm, pristine performance, with 10 winners and only six unforced errors. Keys’ 30 unforced errors negated her 18 winners, and she was often frustrated by Stephens’ superb ability to extend the points.
The match started with both players testing each other’s strengths: Stephens’ movement and inventiveness, and Keys’ power on the serve and the forehand. Both were tentative initially, during the first Grand Slam championship match for either of them.
It was Stephens’ steadiness which caused Keys to cede serve first, throwing in three unforced errors at 2-2 to give Stephens the initial lead. Stephens smoothly held onto her serve for the next two games, forcing Keys to up the ante if she wanted to make it back into the set.
Keys continued to play aggressively, but, more often than not, her shots failed to stay within the lines. Stephens claimed her first set point at 5-3 when she hit a backhand square on the baseline, but an unforced error — only her second of the match up to that point — gave it away.
But a backhand error by Keys later in the game gave Stephens a second shot to break for the set — and a second consecutive backhand error handed the 6-3 set to the unseeded player.