Sloane Stephens Grand Slammed it in New York
When Sloane Stephens, 24, scored her final point in the 6:3, 6:0 victory against fellow American Madison Keys making her the 2017 US Open Champion, it was the final stage in an incredible comeback journey. After a stress fracture in her left foot had forced her out of the sport for eleven months, the US Open was only her fifth tournament of 2017. But Stephens, who endorses the HEAD Radical Series, surprised everyone with stellar performances throughout the tournament – and a nearly perfect final match. The reward: the first Grand Slam title of her career.
“I should just retire now,” Stephens said during the trophy ceremony. “I told [Madison Keys] I’m never going to be able to top this. I mean, talk about a comeback.” Stephens came into the US Open unseeded, but with strong recent showings at the tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati, she always knew she had a chance to go far. But, as Stephens readily admitted during the press conference, she surprised herself with a flawless game: “I made six unforced errors in the whole match? Shut the front door. I don’t think that’s ever happened before. Oh, my God. That’s a stat.”
The victory was made possible by Stephens’ hard work and the support of a strong team, her coach Kamau Murray, and her family in the stands. “My journey to get here, coming back, just being able to keep it all together and have such a great team behind me – this journey has been incredible. And I honestly wouldn't change it for the world.” Ranked 957th in the world as late as July 31st, 2017 Stephens jumped to 84th before the US Open started and leaped to 17th after her victory at Flushing Meadows.
Yibing Wu and Cori Gauff completed a strong showing by the HEAD team in the Junior draw. The 17-year old Chinese talent Wu dominated the boys field and defeated Axel Geller of Argentina in straight sets – Wu also claimed the boys doubles’ title with his partner Yu Hsiou Hsu. While Wu’s victory did not come unexpected, he was seeded second, 13-year old Cori Gauff bursted onto the scene and marched through the draw to become the youngest girl in US Open history to reach the Junior final. Well done.