Sloane Stephens Wins 1st Grand Slam with US Open Final Victory over Madison Keys

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2017

Sloane Stephens, of the United States, reacts after beating Madison Keys, of the United States, in the women's singles final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
Adam Hunger/Associated Press

Sloane Stephens completed her epic run through the 2017 U.S. Open with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Madison Keys in Saturday's final.

This is not only the first career Grand Slam title for Stephens, but she also became the first American woman other than Venus and Serena Williams to win a major since Jennifer Capriati in 2002.

The 24-year-old was ranked No. 934 in the world last month and entered the tournament ranked 83rd, but she shocked everyone with the best two weeks of her career.

Here is a look at her game-winning point and emotional response with her opponent and friend:

US Open Tennis @usopen

.@SloaneStephens is your 2017 #USOpen champion! She defeats Keys 6-3, 6-0. 🇺🇸🏆 https://t.co/EXuTr0TKmk

It had been a similar story for each competitor leading up to Saturday's showdown at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York. Each player had overcome early-season injuries and had some rough performances even when healthy. 

After narrow victories in earlier rounds, they also both needed to beat fellow Americans in the semifinals to reach their first Grand Slam final. 

However, only one could come away with the championship, and Stephens was the best on the court in this one.

The Florida native was in complete control in the first set by sitting back and avoiding mistakes. Ben Rothenberg of the New York Times described the action:

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Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg

Four easy holds for Sloane Stephens so far, 5-3 over Keys. And zero unforced errors. She's found her counterpunching identity. #usopen

She finished the set with just two unforced errors, winning 16 of her 20 service points and earning two breaks for the 6-3 win.

This break clinched the opening set:

US Open Tennis @usopen

🎥 Replay: @SloaneStephens looks strong in the first set! #USOpen @MBUSA https://t.co/zQEN96dQGN

The second set was even smoother. Stephens earned a pair of breaks right out of the gate to take a 4-0 advantage and put Keys on her heels. The negative body language also started to show, with Keys unhappy with her play.

Meanwhile, Stephens was just too tough to beat with excellent defense. Tumaini Carayol of Eurosport also discussed her passing ability:

Tumaini Carayol @tumcarayol

Stephens is already one of the best passers in the game. A lot of desperation in coming in behind those weak approaches

After saving three break points to win the fifth game of the set, she was able to close things out with a bagel over her compatriot.

Although she had zero aces and only 10 winners in the entire match compared to 18 from Keys, the story of the day was the six unforced errors.

Those watching were impressed by the performance:

Brad Gilbert @bgtennisnation

tremendous tactics from Sloane Ranger used her legs and superior quickness and played very steady, to totally routine Madison Ave keys 🔑

Jon Wertheim @jon_wertheim

Poised and persistent Sloane Stephens wins the 2017 @usopen , 6-3,6-0...Wow.

Chelsea Clinton @ChelseaClinton

Congratulations @SloaneStephens! Such a joy to watch you play this whole #USOpen! https://t.co/5kRzsE3pPN

While Stephens needed three sets to win each of her last three matches and four total in this tournament, she finished things off with a straight-set victory for the U.S. Open title. It turned out to be the easiest victory of all, as it was the first time she lost fewer than six games in a match.

Darren Rovell of ESPN broke down the financials from the win:

Darren Rovell @darrenrovell

In 7 years on tour, Sloane Stephens made $4,519,709. Her US Open winner's check today is $3,700,000. https://t.co/zhylGzc5E6

The WTA season continues with several premier events still on the calendar leading up to the BNP Paribas WTA Finals in Singapore. Based on the way each player has performed these last two weeks, they should be serious threats to win every tournament they enter throughout 2017.

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