Stephens too strong for Svitolina in Montreal
Sloane Stephens overpowered Elina Svitolina in straight sets Saturday to reach her first Rogers Cup final and set up a rematch of the French Open final against Simona Halep.
The forehand of world number three Stephens proved too much for Svitolina to cope with in the WTA Premier 5 event in Montreal, where the American emerged a 6-3 6-3 winner in a contest that lasted one hour and 40 minutes and was tighter than the scoreline suggests.
Stephens reached the semi-final at this event last year en route to her surprise US Open triumph, and the 25-year-old will now have another chance to get the better of world number one Halep, who came from a set down to win their showdown in the decider at Roland Garros in June.
Speaking on court about the meeting with the Romanian on Sunday, Stephens said: "Yeah I'm going to give it another go, hopefully tomorrow I'll avenge my loss. I want to be at my best, compete hard and have fun."
Stephens made a flying start to the contest on outdoor hard courts at IGA Stadium, breaking Svitolina to love and then securing a double break in the third game to take control, the Ukrainian fending off three break points to no avail.
After a pep talk from coach Andrew Bettles, Svitolina attempted to match the power game of her opponent, holding twice and then breaking Stephens to get back to 3-5.
She had an opportunity to hold serve on a game point that would have made it 4-5, but Stephens survived that and then asserted herself with a piercing backhand down the line to bring up another break point, Svitolina later dragging a backhand rally ball wide to succumb.
The second set remained on serve until the fourth game, when Svitolina fell behind.
She missed an opportunity to break back in a decisive fifth game that lasted over 13 minutes, and produced the rally of the match, won by Stephens when she came to the net and put away a weak attempted lob, the American digging deep to save three break points before holding to take a 4-1 lead.
Buoyed by another intervention from Bettles, Svitolina held and then broke back, Stephens this time missing her attempted overhead to offer hope to the dogged figure on the other side of the net.
Now it was the turn Stephens' coach Kamau Murray to inspire his charge, the surprise 2017 US Open winner responding by rediscovering the combination of power and unnerving accuracy that had served her well at the start of each set to break straight break and serve out the match with a series of thundering groundstrokes.