Rouen | Stephens to meet Linette in WTA 250 final

Few would have predicted 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens would be contesting the final against Magda Linette at the Open Capfinances Rouen Métropole, the WTA 250 in France, but the American upset tournament favourite Caroline Garcia, 6-3 6-2, in the Saturday’s semi-final, while the Pole outlasted Anhelina Kalinina, the 3rd seed, 6-1 4-6 6-2, to also make the trophy match on Sunday.

Stephens is now just one win away from capturing her first title in 2 years at the Rouen Open, while Linette has been seeking her first WTA title since February 2020.

Both have dropped just a set apiece to reach the final, Stephens in her opening match against fellow American Peyton Stearns before winning 8 consecutive sets against Stearns, Karolina Pliskova, Yuan Yue, and Garcia, while Linette defeated Elsa Jacquemot, Natalija Stefanovic, and Arantxa Rus, but then needed 3 sets to overcome Kalinina in her semi-final.

Stephens, the 6th seed, defeated Garcia, the World No 23 seeded 2nd, to narrow their head-to-head record to 4-5 before posting a couple of pictures on her Instagram feed to celebrate her victory, captioned: “Catch me if you can!”

In her 10th tournament of the season, Stephens has won 14 matches and lost 9, and should she lift the trophy on Sunday, it will be her 8th WTA career singles title, which includes the 2017 US Open and the 2018 Miami Masters.

The 31-year-old has also made notable appearances in finals throughout her career, including the 2018 French Open, the 2018 WTA Finals and the Canadian Open final in 2018.

To add another to her illustrious career. she has to navigate past the determined 32-year-old Linette, though, who started her season at the Brisbane International but has struggled with her form this season, competing in 11 tournaments so far and enduring 6 exits in the 1st-round.

Linette, ranked 60, kicked off her Open de Rouen campaign by defeating Elsa Jacquemot in the 1st-round, Natalija Kostić in round 2, and Arantxa Rus in the quarter-finals before taking down Kalinina.

Stephens and Linette have competed 3 times in the past, and the American has won all 3 of these meetings, but they were all on hard courts.

Their first clay court contest could prove even more ominous for Linette, as the American has played her best tennis on the dirt in recent years, while the Pole’s best form has come on hard courts.

In her first clay court final, Linette will need to try to disrupt Stephens’ rhythm to have a chance, as the 2018 French Open runner-up can find angles all over the court with her heavy topspin, and then pick her moments to strike in the longer rallies.

Last year’s Australian Open semi-finalist will need to go for the lines more, and throw in the occasional drop-shot to try and keep Stephens at bay, but Linette should avoid trying to rush the net regularly since the American possesses one of the best passing shots in the game on clay.

The doubles final sees Naiktha Bains & Maia Lumsden take on Timea Babos & Irina Khromacheva, the No 2 seeds on Sunday.

Facebook/Open Capfinances Rouen Métropole

The doubles final sees Britain’s Naiktha Bains & Maia Lumsden take on Hungarian Timea Babos & Irina Khromacheva from Russia, the No 2 seeds.

In the semi-finals on Saturday, the British pair defeated Japan’s Nao Hibino & Oksana Kalashnikova, 4-6 6-2 [10-6], while Babos & Kromacheva dispatched Britain’s Samantha Murray Sharan & Katarzyna Piter from Poland, 6-2 6-2.



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