US Open 2017: Sensational Sloane Stephens demolishes Madison Keys to seal debut Grand Slam title
Sloane Stephens produced a stunning performance in the US Open final to beat Madison Keys 6-3 6-0 and win her first ever Grand Slam title.
The 24-year-old showed her class in a win over Venus Williams to reach Saturday’s showpiece in New York, but upped her game even further in the final to leave Keys with no answer on Arthur Ashe.
Both players began the match strongly, but Stephens broke Keys’ serve in the fifth game and never looked back.
Stephens’ relentless defensive game and unparalleled ground coverage put Keys under big pressure, and the 22-year-old’s big-hitting game started to let her down, with 16 unforced errors in the first set alone.
Buoyed by taking the opening set, Stephens came out in blistering form in the second, breaking at the earliest possible opportunity and rattling through to a 5-0 lead. Keys made her work hard for the win, saving two championship points, but a third proved too much and Stephens celebrated with an understated smile before embracing her opponent, and close friend, at the net.
The victory completes a remarkable comeback from Stephens, who was ranked 957th in the world as recently as July 31.
"It's incredible. I honestly had surgery Jan 23 and if someone had told me I'd win the U.S. Open I would have said it's impossible," said the unseeded Stephens.
"Madi is one of my best friends on tour and to play her here, I wouldn't have wanted to play anyone else. I told her I wish it could be a draw and if it was the other way around she'd do the same. To stand here with her today is incredible, that's what real friendship is."
Keys added: "Sloane is truly one of my favourite people and to get to play her was really special. Obviously I didn't play my best tennis today and I was really disappointed but Sloane was very supportive and if there was someone I had to lose to today I'm glad it's her."