Sloane Stephens wins Miami Open title by overcoming Jelena Ostapenko

Sloane Stephens defeated Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets to win the Miami Open last night. Should stand. With AP Photos.

Besides the trip to the final, there are a few significant other perks for Stephens, who spent some of her youth learning the game at Key Biscayne.

Next year, it will be a new and very different stage for this tournament.

It's been a long road for Stephens who was off the tennis tour for 11 months, coming back last Summer and rising from the 951 in the world to winning the U.S. Open. Stephens went 6-2 up, Ostapenko saved three set points, the first delivering an apparently ill-timed and audacious dropshot, but at 6-5 Stephens hit a smart that pushed Ostapenko out of position on the backhand side.

The victorious run is over for St. Petersburg's Danielle Collins at the Miami Open.

"This place is pretty special to me", said Florida native Stephens. "I'm definitely happy I could be the last person to win here".

"I wasn't expecting a title here or anywhere, really". "I'm excited for the move". "I always play well in the U.S. I'm sure it will be attractive".

But there was no cause for sadness Saturday afternoon, as Stephens delighted the capacity crowd at Crandon Park with an overwhelming performance, crushing No. 5 Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (5), 6-1.

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The tournament in Miami concludes tomorrow with the men's final between American John Isner and Germany's Alexander Zverev. Isner could give the United States its first sweep at Key Biscayne since 2004, when the champions were Andy Roddick and Serena Williams. After five wins, she lost the first here in Miami.

The tennis had been far from their best: Ostapenko 29 errors to 18 winners, Stephens 14 errors for only three winners. "Sometimes I was going aggressive when I didn't have to".

The victory will be even sweeter for Stephens come Monday as she'll make her long-awaited Top 10 debut, landing at World No.9.

"Are you kidding?" Stephens said. "In the first set I was down but I battled back so I knew if I did that in the second, I'd be right in there", the 25-year-old American said in an on-court interview. I wasn't expecting a title here.

Stephens however, who was raised in Plantation, Florida and was able to call on overwhelming support here, made the stronger start, breaking in the first game.

Earlier, sixth seed Ostapenko was far from her best in her quarter-final, spraying the court with 44 unforced errors and having her serve broken six times on a windy day. After a hard-fought first set, Stephens found her groove in the second.

"I think she's a great player", Ostapenko said. "My feet stopped moving. I just needed a little bit of a reminder to just go for it if I wanted to take the title".

She hit 33 winners and ended the match in style with a running forehand victor down the line. When Ostapenko hooked a forehand at a sharp crosscourt angle on the next shot, it looked like the point would finally be hers.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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