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US Open champion Sloane Stephens beat Latvian Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 to win her first Miami Open title. American Stephens looked tense at the start and there were eight breaks of serve in the first set before the home favourite prevailed in the tie-break. The 25-year-old world number 12 relied heavily on her defence before putting her foot on the gas in the second set.

World number five Ostapenko, 20, was left to rue an unforced error count of 48 which cost her a first win in Miami.

It was the first meeting between the pair, both Grand Slam winners in the past 12 months, and their nerves showed in the opening exchanges as the first four games went against serve.

Stephens had beaten three former Grand Slam champions - Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber and Victoria Azarenka - to make the final, but she struggled initially against an aggressive Ostapenko.

Stephens hit just three winners in the first set, relying on 29 unforced errors from the Latvian to scrape through the tie-break.

French Open champion Ostapenko had not dropped a set all tournament until that point, and immediately broke the American in the second set.

Florida native Stephens showed her improved speed as she continued to return Ostapenko's hits, before finally coming alive in attack at 3-1 with a deft drop-shot and a brilliant cross-court winner as the finish line came into sight.

The American ramped up the tempo and swept through the final games to win in one hour 31 minutes.

Having lost eight matches in a row following her US Open triumph, Stephens has now responded to that slump with a sixth WTA title that will move her into the world top 10 for the first time when the rankings are released on Monday.

"There were pre-match jitters but once I won the first set, I was able to settle," she said. "I have wanted to be in the top 10 for so long. It's very exciting."

BBC

 

Three-time champion and eighth seed Venus Williams has been knocked out of the Miami Open in the quarter-finals by qualifier Danielle Collins.

The 24-year-old, ranked 93rd in the world, needed only one hour 29 minutes to come through 6-2 6-3 against fellow American Williams, 37, a seven-time Grand Slam winner.

It was Collins' first victory against a top 10 player.

She will now face French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the semi-finals.

The 20-year-old Latvian saw off world number four Elina Svitolina over two tie-breaks, winning 7-6 (7-3) 7-6 (7-5).

"The first time I saw Venus in the locker room I nearly cried," Collins admitted. "She has been my favourite player so I am finding it difficult to wrap my head around this."

Victoria Azarenka will play US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the other women's singles semi-final.

 

Rafael Nadal coped with an on-court intruder and the Paris rain to beat fellow Spaniard David Ferrer and win a record eighth French Open title. Nadal, 27, came through 6-3 6-2 6-3 to reaffirm his dominance on clay, and further elevate himself among the greats of the sport.

"I'm very happy, very emotional," he said. "It's a very important victory for me."
However, the final was interrupted by a brief protest high in the stands during the second set that was quickly followed by an intruder leaping onto the court while brandishing a flare.


Security guards managed to bundle the man to the ground as he approached Nadal, and the player even took care to shake an official's hand before returning to the action.
"Just can I say thank you very much to all the security guys," he said afterwards. "They did just amazing work.
"They were very quick, and they were very courageous about what they did in the first moment."
Nadal dropped his serve immediately after the incident, but within an hour he had wrapped up the victory that makes him the first man to win a Grand Slam singles tournament eight times.
His 59th match win also takes him past Roger Federer and Guillermo Vilas at Roland Garros, while his 12th major title moves him above Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver on the all-time list. Ferrer, playing in his first major final at the age of 31, was a worthy adversary and pushed his compatriot harder than the score might suggest, but he never threatened an upset.

Both men appeared edgy in the early stages, with breaks of serve exchanged in games three and four, but Nadal fired a brilliant cross-court backhand winner to move ahead again at 4-3 and took the set with a third break. Ferrer was making his illustrious compatriot work for his service games and missed an early chance in the second set, before Nadal made him pay with a forehand winner for 2-0.

A routine afternoon looked on the cards, but the calm was shattered by chanting from protesters with a banner in the upper tier of the stands during the sixth game of the set. The players paused while the incident was dealt with only for another, potentially more serious, disturbance to follow before the next game when a shirtless man wearing a mask vaulted the flower bed surrounding the court, waving a burning flare above his head.
When play resumed, two unsurprisingly distracted service games followed, but Nadal moved two sets clear and looked razor sharp again when a volley put him 2-0 ahead in the third.


The increasingly heavy rain now appeared the biggest threat to his ambitions, but Ferrer was not done and got back on level terms before blowing an opportunity to move ahead with a backhand error at 3-3. It was to be Ferrer's last chance as a double-fault gave up his serve for the seventh time.
Nadal moved to match point and cracked a magnificent forehand winner before falling back onto the clay in celebration for an incredible eighth time at Roland Garros.

BBC

World number one Serena Williams won a second French Open title 11 years after her first with a convincing win over defending champion Maria Sharapova. The American, 31, was pushed at times but took control midway through the first set, winning 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 46 minutes. Williams has now claimed 16 Grand Slam singles titles, moving her to within two of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who have 18 each. And with an unbeaten run that stands at 31 matches, she will be strongly favoured to add to that tally at Wimbledon next month.

"Today, when I won, I was trying to win the French Open; I wasn't trying to get to number 16," said Williams. "I think it's really special. I feel like I definitely want to continue my journey." Sharapova had come into Saturday's final promising to "try something different" after failing to beat Williams in their last 12 matches, stretching back to 2004.
Key to the Russian's hopes was defending a serve that has been plagued by double faults in recent times.


At 0-40 in the opening game, things already looked bleak for Sharapova, but she dug in and fired down an ace and one terrific second serve as she saw off four break points.
The second seed took that momentum into the following game to break the mighty Williams serve, and looked well set in the next at 40-15 - before Williams sparked into life.
A heavy forehand winner helped her back into the game and when she thumped away a smash on break point, the American let out a "come on!" that was the equal of Sharapova's early efforts.


Four games in a row put Williams in command at 4-2, but Sharapova showed the grit that has taken her to four Grand Slam titles as she battled her way back to 4-4 in some fierce baseline exchanges. With the pressure on, Williams raised her intensity still further and produced the kind of hitting that even Sharapova cannot live with, forcing the Russian into a forehand error in game nine before serving out the set after 51 minutes.

That was five minutes longer than Sara Errani had managed to delay Williams in their entire semi-final, and Sharapova continued to cling on gamely. She saved five break points in a gripping first game of the second set but, unable to trouble the American's serve, she found herself under pressure again moments later. Williams proved just how much she has improved her movement on clay as she slid out wide for one defensive backhand on the way to breaking in game three, and she would not relinquish the advantage.


The 15,000 spectators in the main Chatrier stadium cheered Sharapova as she held serve from 30-30 with defeat looming, but she was not about to be given a reprieve by her opponent. Williams demonstrated once again that her serve is the best shot in the game, firing down an ace to secure the title and dropping to her knees in celebration.
Sharapova said: "She played a great match. She played strong, she played deep, served really good; served better than I did. She took her chances."

BBC