None of the Top 4 seeds at the WTA Finals made the last four at the year-end in Singapore as No. 5 Sloane Stephens and No. 8 Kiki Bertens took the last two final four berths.
Stephens eliminated Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-3 in a battle of former US Open champions.
“Playing Angie is always tough for me,” Stephens said. “She’s No. 2 player in the world. She’s a tough match. Obviously coming here and playing against the top players in the world, nothing is going to be easy.”
“I just prepared,” she added. “Obviously a lot on the line today, trying to make the semis and trying to get through. I just tried to do my best and battled as hard as I could and stick to my game plan.”
Stephens, who finished the Red Group 3-0, will face Czech Karolina Pliskova.
“Me, Svitolina, Bertens, and Karolina, I think we have all had great seasons and had some really great results,” added Stephens. “I think that obviously the top four have, too, but I think at the end, like when we were all battling towards the end of the year, everyone pretty much counted us out, because they were, like, ‘Oh, they are barely going to qualify or barely get in.'”
“I think we have all played, the four of us in our groups, I think we have all played really well,” she said. “When I played Kiki, that was probably the best match I played in the group. So, yeah, I think it’s great for us, great for the younger girls just to be able to prove ourselves and even get this far and get here.”
Bertens, who only gained entry when Simona Halep withdrew, advanced when Noami Osaka retired down a set 6-3 due to a left thigh injury.
“When she called out the physio I think the last point she was not moving to the ball like from 4-3 to 5-3. But before that, I didn’t know,” Bertens said of Osaka’s injury.
“I saw her in the match before that she was struggling a little bit with the hamstring, and of course she was taped today, but I think in the beginning she was still okay. It’s never easy or never nice to win a match like this, but it is what it is. I’ll take it and I’ll take my rest, and I have some more recovery time for tomorrow.”
Bertens will take on the undefeated leader from the White Group, Elina Svitolina.
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