Sloane Stephens has won the WTA 125 event in Saint Malo, one of the two challengers being played alongside to the decisive week of the Mutua Madrid Open. Once the parallel tournament in Reus has hosted 10 names from the top 100 of WTA rankings, the French one has hosted 7 players being currently ranked even or higher than 100th place in the WTA list. Some of the names from the main draw were very interesting there. Stephens got a wild card there, after an early first round exit in Madrid last week, and became the headline of whole the field. The American advanced to the final in quite a comfortable way, meeting another notable name on her way in the semifinals. Elina Svitolina has appeared in Saint Malo on the basis of her protected ranking, and used it in really proper way, winning 3 matches in a row to reach the semis, including the wins over Ysaline Bonaventure and Leolia Jeanjean. Despite losing to Stephens, the Ukrainian made really hard conditions for the tournament's top seed to advance into final. Stephens won 7-5 7-6(5) and has needed 2:20 hours to prevail in the match which lasted just 2 sets. The second set was a true thriller and delightful battle to watch. Stephens was upfront from the start, but did not manage to close this match despite leading with a break advantage three times. Svitolina cleared the gap every time once being down a break, and could turn this match over while having 4 setpoints during the service games of her opponent in the decisive parts of this set. Everything was settled in the tiebreak eventually, which was quite a shaky one, as 9 out of 12 points has ended up with minibreak. Stephens prevailed at the end, making it through the final.
Greet Minnen was the opponent of the US Open 2017 champion in the final. The Belgian made quite a surprise there, reaching out the final clash after defeating the tournament's second seed Clarie Liu in the opening round, Jodie Burrage, 8th seed Emma Navarro and another American, Katie Volynets in the semis.
Stephens was a pre-match favorite ahead of the final, with an odd 1.62. The American played really well in the opening set, winning it 6-3 without a necessity to save any single breakpoint. The second set delivered much more contention, as Minnen broke Stephens in the opening game and was leading with a break up until the 6th game, when the American leveled the score. Stephens broke her opponent another time in 10th game, when Minnen was serving to stay in the match. The world's number 48 broke her to love and took the title, winning it 6-3 6-4 eventually.
The successful run in France is benefitial for both the finalists. It is the first trophy for Sloane Stephens since 15 months and her victory in Guadalajara. The American gains 12 places to move up into 36th in the newest WTA ranking. Greet Minnen will advance into 136th, gaining 37 spots. It was a great week for the Belgian, who apart from the great result in singles has managed to win the doubles tournament in Saint Melo, being paired with Bibiane Schoofs from Netherlands.