The last three US Open champions were in action Wednesday at the Singapore WTA Finals, and Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber came out as winners.
Stephens won a late-night thriller over the surging Kiki Bertens 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3.
“I think we are kind of similar in that we can mix it up a lot and do a lot of different things,” Stephens said of Bertens. “So I thought that’s why we had so many great points, long points where there were slices and lobs and all types of different things going on.
“But I think that’s why it was so competitive, because we were playing kind of similar. But it was a tough match. I think it’s not often you play someone who plays kind of similar to you that you have to kind of battle it out and figure it out.
“It was kind of cool, but I thought we played some really great points. I guess that’s kind of what competing is all about.”
Stephens is now 2-0 in the group, but has yet to clinch a semifinal berth.
In the earlier match, Angelique Kerber beat reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
“Naomi is such a great opponent. She played unbelievable and I think we both played on a really high-level tonight,” Kerber told the crowd.
“I think that I started really well, and the second set was a really close set. I had my chances, but she played unbelievable in the important moments, and I think it was just one or two points that decided the match.”
Stephens and Kerber will now meet on Friday while Osaka and Bertens battle with possible semifinal spot still in hopes.
On Thursday, Petra Kvitova will hope to stay perfect against countrywoman Karolina Pliskova. Kviotva, who leads Pliskova 3-0, must win in straight sets to have a chance at the semifinals. Pliskova is also alive, but has to win at least a set.
Elina Svitolina is 2-0 in the group but would be eliminated should she lose to Caroline Wozniacki coupled with a Pliskova win. Wozniacki has to win the match to have a shot continuing her title defense.
“Another tough battle,” Svitolina said of Wozniacki. “She’s a fighter and so am I. It’s gonna be a tough match, you know. There is no easy matches here, so, you know, recover, practice, and here you go again, playing on Thursday.”
Svitolina leads the Dane 3-1 but her only loss came at this event last year in a 6-2, 6-0 beatdown.
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