Stephens downs top seed Kerber, storms into WTA finals

Japan's Naomi Osaka was forced to retire from the WTA Finals with a left hamstring injury

Elina Svitolina secured the biggest title of her career on Sunday, becoming the first Ukrainian player to win the season-ending WTA Finals trophy.

In the final of the tournament the first racket of our country beat the sixth racket of the world ranking American Sloane Stephens- 3:6, 6:2, 6:2.

Having started slowly in the semi-finals, it was Stephens who made the running early and she broke Svitolina to love in the second game.

"It is wonderful. I am very pleased with my performance this week", said Svitolina, who has won her past nine finals on the WTA Tour and not lost one in the last two seasons.

The Bertens forehand once again did the damage as her return found the corner, and Svitolina could not retrieve it in time.

Svitolina has been in brilliant, aggressive form in Singapore, beating defending champion Caroline Wozniacki, Czech players Petra Kvitova and Karolina Pliskova at the group stage, and Kiki Bertens in the semi-finals. I think tomorrow will be a great match.

Stephens said she was satisfied with her debut WTA Finals.

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The win is Bertens' 12th against a Top 10 player this season - tying her for the second-most in the last five years, since Serena Williams also earned 12 in 2014.

"I think set and a half I was playing very well", said Pliskova. "I made a little bit more mistakes than usual".

Osaka had started the match brightly, rolling through her service games before being broken in the eighth game. I knew it was going to be a battle. Stephens brought it back to 3-2, but Svitolina ran the table from there to put the match away 6-2 with the help of a flurry of errors from the American.

Pliskova's first serve deserted her as a composed Stephens forced a decider and her momentum continued by capturing a break to open the third set.

Svitolina's triumph was her 13th victory in 15 finals and should fill her full of confidence as she looks to make a Grand Slam breakthrough in 2019. Kerber says she plans to take a four-week rest this year like she did last year. after learning from her mistakes in 2016 "2016 was definitely not enough free".

Stephens gifted Pliskova an immediate break back by sending a lazy backhand long, but a double fault returned the initiative to the world number six and she held firm to force a decisive set.

The popular Osaka called for the trainer once more but tearfully succumbed to her fate after consulting with her coach to end her breakthrough season with a disappointing three straight defeats at the year-end championships.

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