SINGAPORE: Sloane Stephens and Kiki Bertens continued their dream debuts at the WTA Finals when the tournament rookies won their final Red Group matches to advance to the last four of the season-ending event in Singapore on Friday.
American Stephens stayed calm and saw off an increasingly agitated top seed Angelique Kerber in the winner-takes-all night match to complete round-robin play with a spotless 3-0 record after she wrapped up a 6-3, 6-3 victory against the German.
In the afternoon match, Bertens advanced to the semi-finals after Naomi Osaka retired with a left hamstring injury at the end of a first set the versatile Dutchwoman had captured by a 6-3 margin.
Saturday’s semi-finals will see Bertens take on White Group winner Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, before Stephens faces big-hitting Czech Karolina Pliskova.
For the first time since 2003, none of the top four seeds advanced to the semi-finals of the WTA Finals.
“I think the four of us, in our groups, we all played really well,” Stephens said of the semi-finalists. “I think it’s great for us, and for the younger girls, to kind of prove ourselves.”
In the early match, US Open champion Osaka finished her debut appearance at the WTA Finals with an injury and an 0-3 record.
“I hurt my left hamstring in the first match [against Stephens],” Osaka told reporters.
Bertens only qualified for the WTA Finals just days before the tournament after world number one Simona Halep withdrew due to injury.
Published in Dawn, October 27th , 2018
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