France | Top seed Stephens captures WTA125 title

Top seed Sloane Stephens captured the L’Open 35 de Saint Malo WTA125 title on Sunday with a straight-sets victory over Greet Minnen, 6-3 6-4, in the final.

I would like to spend all my time with [daughter] Skai and share every moment with her, but I decided to return to competition and focus on my tennis. I don't know how many more seasons I will play, but there are some milestones I would like to achieve before retiring. I will use the protected ranking to play the WTA 1000 in Rome, then Strasbourg, and finally Roland Garros. Elina Svitolina

Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion and former World No 3, took an hour and 40 minutes to outlast the unseeded Belgian and triumph on the clay courts of France, winning 80% of her first-service points.

Currently ranked 48, the American won her first two matches by identical 6-1 6-1 scoreline, and dropped only one set all tournament, to Jessika Ponchet from France in the quarter-finals.

In the semi-finals, Stephens battled past another former World No 3, Elina Svitolina, who is on the come-back trail after maternity leave, eking out a 7-5 7-6(5) win over the Ukrainian, and setting up the final match against Minnen, ranked 173.


Former Top 3 players Elina Svitolina and Sloane Stephens squared off in the Last 4 in a rematch of the 2018 WTA Finals title match.

Photo by Patrick Boren/L'Open 35 de Saint-Malo/WTAtennis.com

Svitolina, currently ranked 1088, received a wild-card into the main draw, her 5th tournament back on tour,   and won her first match against Despina Papamichael from Greece, 7-5 6-1, before notching up the first Top 100 win of her come-back over No 4 seed Ysaline Bonaventure from Belgium, 2-6 6-4 7-6(5), in the 2nd-round, and then racing past another Frenchwoman, Leolia Jeanjean, 6-3 6-1 in just 64 minutes, firing 5 aces en route.

Saint Malo marked Svitolina’s first run of consecutive match wins since returning to the tour, and, the Ukrainian now plans to compete in Rome and the French Open.

“I would like to spend all my time with [daughter] Skai and share every moment with her, but I decided to return to competition and focus on my tennis,” she said recently. “I don’t know how many more seasons I will play, but there are some milestones I would like to achieve before retiring.

“I will use the protected ranking to play the WTA 1000 in Rome, then Strasbourg, and finally Roland Garros.”


Doubles champions Greet Minnen & Bibiane Schoofs

L'Open 35 de Saint-Malo/Facebook

Belgian Minnen defeated 2 seeds en route to her first WTA 125 final, including No 2 seed Claire Liu of the USA in the 1st-round, 2-6 6-2 6-4, while she also ended 8th-seeded Emma Navarro’s 12-match winning streak, 3-6 6-3 6-3, and then dispatched yet another American in Katie Volynets, 6-3 6-3, who took out No 7 seed Magdalena Frech from Poland, 6-3 6-3.

She also brought Jodie Burrage’s run to a halt in the 2nd-round, 6-4 6-3, after the Brit had seen her way past French qualifier Carole Monnet, 2-6 6-2 7-5, in her opener at the Parc des sports de Marville on Tuesday.

Minnen had lost her lone previous meeting with Stephens in the 1st-round of last year’s US Open, but she did push Stephens to 3 sets there.

Stephens, though, took command early in Sunday’s final, powering to the one-set lead without facing a break point.

The Belgian pushed back in the second, going up a break on two separate occasions, at 1-0 and 3-2, but the American broke back immediately both times, and Stephens prevailed in a pivotal 4-4 game, saving a break point with her 3rd ace of the day, before holding serve.

In the final game, Stephens took a 0-30 lead with a winning backhand pass, and Minnen double-faulted on the following point to set up triple championship point.

Stephens needed only one chance when Minnen sent a forehand long to end the championship match.

Minnen, however, did leave Saint Malo with a title, as she teamed up with Dutchwoman Bibiane Schoofs to win the doubles championship.

Seeded 4th, Minnen & Schoofs beat the top seeds, Norway’s Ulrikke Eikeri & Eri Hozumi of Japan, 7-6(7) 7-6(3), in Saturday’s doubles final.

Minnen & Schoofs were down a break on 4 separate occasions in the second set before gritting out the tiebreak, and wrapping up the victory after 2 hours and 2 minutes.




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