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02 April 2018, 11:20 | Percy Christensen
Sloane Stephens. Twitter
That this year's title match would be contested by two reigning Major champions, and neither of them named Williams, made it something out of the ordinary.
This is the past year that the Miami Open is being held at Bey Biscayne in Crandon Park. And this would be only the eighth time since that same year, 1998, that the final did not feature at least one of those sisters.
Sloane Stephens, just as she had in NY last September, gave the home crowd a woman to cheer.
Seeded 13th, Stephens won with defence, repeatedly extending rallies until Ostapenko would make a mistake. So I'm super excited that on Monday I will be inside the top 10.
Stephens kept surviving deep baseline challenges from her opponent, and Ostapenko kept wilting with unforced errors.
Completing the American domination at Crandon Park were doubles titles won by the Bob and Mike Bryan and CoCo Vandeweghe winning with Australian Ashleigh Barty.
Stephens had shown improved speed as she continued to return Ostapenko's hits, before finally coming alive in attack at 3-1 with a deft drop-shot and a brilliant cross-court victor as the finish line came into sight.
It was, all things considered, an intriguing final and a significant first showdown between two women who could go on to dominate through the coming decade. "Sometimes I was going aggressive when I didn't have to". The first four games summed up the nerves: four breaks.
At the moment, Ostapenko is ranked fifth in the WTA rankings, while Stephens is ranked 12th.
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However, after beating four Slam champions en route to glory, Stephens has proven that she can be a match for anyone when she's on song. After that, Ostapenko's errors went up. The Stadium Arena rose to applaud their player: Would that bring a decisive swing? Stephens served for the first set twice - at 5-4 and at 6-5, getting broken both times. It worked for the next two points, both winners. When the USTA was here, we played Orange Bowl and all sorts of tournaments here.
Stephens can definitely break Ostapenko's run of sets and be the first to take a set off her, and she just might have that edge in the final.
The tennis had been far from their best: Ostapenko 29 errors to 18 winners, Stephens 14 errors for only three winners. "When she was hitting great shots, I just accepted that some good shots were going to be hit and just didn't harp on it too much".
The younger woman, though, was not about to back off. However, she immediately handed the break back to Stevens, who held to take a 2-1 lead. With that epic-but hardly classic-first set out of the way, Sloane would lose just one more game.
'It's super awesome, ' she told the WTA after lifting the title.
Ostapenko had a 25-6 advantage in winners but committed 48 unforced errors to 21 by Stephens.
"I knew that I was just going to have to run a lot of balls down", Stephens said of the final.
The inexperienced Collins was somewhat of a gift draw at that stage of the tournament.