Thank you for joining me for this match here on VAVEL. I hope you enjoyed the play-by-play insight. This is Brooks Giardina, signing off. Bye for now!
Final Thoughts: Sloane Stephens' depth on her ground strokes, along with her speedy movement, vaulted her to win this title. Her play today deemed too much for her opponent, Elena Vesnina. Both players have nothing but positives to take out of this tremendous tournament. The American was in fine form from her first match on and overcame her recent struggles from Indian Wells and Miami. The Russian qualifier had a long journey to the final which affected her play as she seemed tired and exhausted, but she never game up as she was competiting her her eighth match of the week. Sloane Stephens played exceptionally well under the pressure she was under. This year's champion, along with the finalist, will be a step ahead of the rest of the WTA as they already hold matches under their belt on the dirt.
Game, set, and match Stephens! Two sets to love, 7-6(4), 6-2 in an hour and 43 minutes. This marks her fourth career WTA title and third so far this year. She will now rise to be the third-ranked American.
AD-40: Persistent retrieving from Stephens.
40-40: Strong Vesnina approach force Stephens' error.
40-30: Stephens sails a backhand long. It is getting nerve-racking...
40-15: Stephens nets a backhand...
40-0: Yet another drop shot bounces in the power house of the American.
30-0: Stephens keeps it going with a forceful forehand winner.
15-0: Vesnina misses a routine forehand volley sitter.
Elena Vesnina shifts the pressure to her opponent as Sloane Stephens will step up to the service line to serve for her fourth WTA title.
40-15: Wow! Effortless return winner.
40-0: Stephens misfires a backhand.
30-0: Stephens sprays a backhand wide.
15-0: Huge mishit from the American.
A powerful first serve, followed by a heavy forehand puts the youngster a game away from the trophy.
-30: Russian error gives Stephens game point.
30-30: The American flicks a clutch, forehand winner.
15-30: Vesnina is all over the weak second serve.
15-15: Stephens backhand maintains depth.
0-15: Nervous double fault...
Sloane Stephens changes direction with a backhand down the line winner, putting her within two games of the title. The American leads 7-6(4), 4-1.
40-AD: Off-paced Vesnina backhand slides wide.
40-40: Clutch backhand winner from the Russian.
40-AD: Loooooong point goes in the favor of the seventh seed as a Vesnina forehand clips the net tape and lands back on her side.
40-40: Stephens nets a forehand.
40-AD: Stephens stays the more consistent one in the tight stages.
40-40: The American gets to the drop shot in plenty of enough time.
AD-40: The qualifier comes up with a clutch forehand punch.
40-40: Vesnina slides a forehand on the run long.
40-30: A lengthy point ends in a tight error.
40-15: Stephens mishits a forehand.
30-15: The American guesses wrong, resulting in a Russian winner.
15-15: Vesnina nets a mid-court backhand.
15-0: Return error from Stephens.
Stephens hits her third ace of the match to seal her 3-1 second set lead.
40-30: Vesnina contnues to misfire off the return.
30-30: The American fails an attempt at a drop shot-lob combination.
30-15: Vesnina hits a ball out.
15-15: Stephens fires her second ace.
0-15: Vesnina with the backhand inside-out winner.
Vesnina hits her first ace to keep her hopes from slipping away.
40-30: Yet another angle off the American's racquet...
40-15: Vesnina places an overhead softly into the wide open court.
30-15: Strong ground stroke forces Stephens' error.
15-15: Stephens does not follow through on a forehand, forcing it long.
0-15: Stephens dictates the point with angle after angle.
The Russian nets a forehand to go down 2-0.
40-15: Great kick serve from the American!
30-15: A return winner from Vesnina.
30-0: Vesnina hits a return error.
15-0: Stephens keeps it going.
Both players seem tentative to start the second set, but it is the home-favorite who takes the break.
30-40: Stephens lacks the footwork in the point.
15-40: Tremendous passing shot from the seventh seed!
15-30: Stephens ups her opponent in the rally.
15-15: Vesnina with yet another winner.
0-15: The American keeps the momentum going.
Stephens is visited by her coach.
What a shot! Sloane Stephens wraps up the set 7-6(4) after a huge down the line bachand winner. After an hour and five minutes, the American is a set away from the biggest title of her career.
6-4 Stephens: Stephens nets a backhand under many nerves.
6-3 Stephens: Return error from Vesnina.
5-3 Stephens:Huge forehand! WOW! Clutch!
4-3 Stephens: The American smashes a forehand winner.
3-3: Volley winner from the qualifier, this time.
3-2 Stephens: Volley error from the qualifier.
2-2: Stephens sails a backhand.
2-1 Stephens: The American is unable to get to the approach shot.
2-0 Stephens: Vesnina volley seeps long.
1-0 Stephens: Huge backhand from the American's racquet.
Sloane Stephens forces a tiebreak after an exciting point. The American crowd goes wild!
40-AD: The Russian hits a netcord which forces her backhand out.
40-40: Vesnina nets a backhand.
AD-40: Vesnina fights back to hold set point.
40-40: Yet another Stephens off-center ground stroke.
30-40: Vesnina hits a beautiful, line-clipping forehand.
15-40: Stephens shanks a return.
0-40: Vesnina barely misses a powerful forehand.
0-30: Stephens applies pressure by approaching, forcing the Russian error.
0-15: The American hits an out of reach angle off the return.
Vesnina takes her second chance to break and has the 6-5 initiative.
40-AD: Stephens hits a backhand wide.
40-40: The Russian qualifier sails a forehand long.
40-AD: Vesnina runs Stephens around the court with her stick volleys.
40-40: Stephens misses by a large margin. Back to deuce...
40-30: The Russian smashes a backhand return winner.
40-15: The intensity rises. Great point from Stephens with exceptional angles.
30-15: Stephens fires her first ace.
15-15: The American stops the bleeding with another backhand winner.
0-15: Vesnina's defense is too much to handle.
Vesnina reels off her third straight game to make it five games apiece.
40-15: The Russian hits a backhand which bounces back on her side.
40-0: Stephens makes another error.
30-0: Well-placed second serve.
15-0: Vesnina rips a backhand down the line.
Yet another second serve point lost as the American failed to close out the first set. Vesnina gets a chance to serve to get the set back on even terms.
The players replay the 30-40 point because of an incorrect line call that was called wrong in Vesnina's favor.
30-40: Untimely Stephens double fault...
30-30: Stephens forces her opponent's error.
15-30: Vesnina hits a backhand that takes a nasty bounce off the line.
15-15: Stephens hits a forehand off-center.
15-0: Vesnina misses a backhand by a wide margin.
Sloane Stephens is forced to serve for the set.
40-30: The ground stroke strength from Stephens forces another Vesnina error.
40-15: Vesnina places an angle winner beautifully.
30-15: The American nets a return.
15-15: Vesnina also hits a forehand long.
15-0: Stephens hits a return long.
Sloane Stephens cruises to a 5-2 first set lead.
40-30: The seventh seed seeps a forehand chop long.
40-15: Stephens double faults...
40-0: A huge down the line backhand winner results in Stephens' eighth straight point.
30-0: The American applies pressure at net.
15-0: Vesnina nets another ground stroke.
Elena Vesnina sails a routine overhead out, resulting in another break and a four games to two lead for Stephens.
40-AD: The American moves the Russian and Vesnina nets a backhand.
40-40: WOW!!!! An exciting point is ended when Stephens cuts off a volley into the open court.
40-30: The Russian overcooks an inside-out forehand.
40-15: Vesnina's on-the-run forehand misses by an inch.
40-0: Vesnina dictates the point with huge forehands.
30-0: Yet another netcord works in the Russian's favor.
15-0: Strong body serve from Vesnina.
Sloane Stephens continues to utilize her ground stroke depth as she targets her opponent's forehand. The home-favorite keeps the match on serve at 3-2.
AD-40: Stephens arrives at game point after another Vesnina backhand error.
40-40: Clutch forehand winner clips the line to save a second break point.
40-AD: The seventh seed sails a forehand out.
40-40: Huge serve down the tee! 114 MPH!
30-40: Stephens anticpates but misses the open pass.
30-30: The American's ground stroke depth was too much for Elena Vesnina.
15-30: Untimely change of direction from Stephens.
15-15: Vesnina hits a running forehand into the net.
0-15: Laziness causes the American to net a backhand.
The qualifier levels the match at two games all with a backhand winner.
40-15: Sloane Stephens slides a forehand slice just wide.
30-15: Huge serve forces a Stephens return error.
15-15: The two-time doubles major champion shows off her net skills.
0-15: Vesnina nets an attempted drop shot.
The American number four earns the first hold of the match with a sticked backhand volley winner. She leads 2-1.
40-15: Stephens opens the court with her serve.
30-15: Stephens hits an approach winner down the line.
15-15: Strong second serve forces qualifier's error.
0-15: Stephens nets a sceond double fault.
Stephens is quick to break back. One game apiece, first set.
0-40: The American's defensive skills gives her triple break point.
-30: The Russian slides a backhand wide.
0-15: Vesnina sails a forehand long.
Vesnina opens the match with a break after a netcord in her favor.
40-AD: Stephens hits a ground stroke long.
40-40: Two strong forehands from the Russian qualifier brings the game to deuce.
40-30: A Stephens backhand catches the frame of her racquet.
40-15: The American rolls a backhand winner cross-court.
30-15: Vesnina nets a forehand return.
15-15: Stephens double faults...
15-0: A backhand from the Russian slides wide to start the match.
Stephens to serve.
The players are greeted with a warm welcome as they enter the Volvo Car Stadium!
Vesnina is bound to find some chances on the return as she is a skilled returner as she moves into the ball at the perfect angle. If she can keep Stephens on the run and use her variety when given a short ball, she will cause all kinds of trouble for the seventh seed.
Sloane Stephens must serve well to beat Vesnina. Her Russian opponent is maintaining a high average on return points won. The American needs to look to step in on the return and keep the ball out of the middle of the court. When Vesnina approaches, Stephens must take her time to set up and hit the best possible pass as Vesnina is extremely skilled at the net. Last but not least, the Stephens forehand will ultimately decide this match. If she can hit her forehand to the corners consistently, she will dictate most of the points.
Elena Vesnina had herself with an extremely winnable quarterfinal against the lowest-ranked player remaining, Laura Siegemund. The match was a streaky affair but the 2011 finalist prevailed 7-5, 6-4. Yesterday, she then took the Volvo Car Stadium for an interesting match up versus Sara Errani. The match concluded in two hours and 19 minutes in Vesnina's favor, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2. The match vaulted Vesnina into her first final in nearly three and a half years.
The qualifier has had a more scenic route to the final as she had to play in the qualifying and did not receive the luxury of a first round bye as Stephens did. The Russian routinely qualified for the main draw and was set to play another qualifier, Cindy Burger. Vesnina overcame a tight first set to breeze past her Dutch opponent and move into a second round match with Belinda Bencic. Completely shocking the entire tennis world, Vesnina was victorious in less than an hour, only dropping two games. The momentum clearly stayed with her when she moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-3 win over the clay-court specialists Lourdes Dominguez-Lino.
The German-American pair were set to face off for a spot in the final. Kerber was the overwhelming favorite, considering her performance last week in Miami and her run here in South Carolina last year. But early on, Stephens did not give in to Kerber's signs of fatigue or illness. The 23-year-old served beautifully to quickly take the opening set. The German seemed any help she could get but her health conditions were too much for her to continue play. She retired down 6-1, 3-0, setting up an eventual Stephens-Vesnina Sunday final.
In Sloane Stephens' opening three matches en route to the semifinals, she did not have a single routine match. She opened up her tournament campaign with a 6-4, 6-3 wins over Danka Kovinic and Daria Gavrilova, who both could cause an upset on any given day. Her next challenge saw her play the young and fiesty Daria Kasatkina. The American's Charleston hopes seemed to reach the end of the road as Kasatkina held a match point at 5-4 in the deciding set. But a massive, inside-out forehand stayed tight to the sideline for a Stephens winner. She kept the momentum going to take the match 7-5 in the third set to book a semifinal clash with the defending champion, Angelique Kerber.
Sloane Stephens and Elena Vesnina will face off for their second career meeting. The Russian leads the head-to-head one win to love, with their last and only meeting dating back to 2013. Their encounter was earlier in the year of 2013 in the semifinals of the Hobart International. The match went in the favor of Vesnina as she only dropped four games. In fact, Vesnina went on to win the tournament and since then has failed to reach a WTA singles final with one exception. But now the players are each at different points in their careers; experience-wise. Vesnina and Stephens both hold WTA titles and more experience since they last played. The Russian qualifier has displayed her many strengths from well-placed ground-strokes to her skills at the net. But her opposing, seventh-seeded opponent has shown her strengths under pressure this week, with her forehand coming in handy for Stephens. The final is expected to be a grind of beautiful shot making.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the final clash between Sloane Stephens and Elena Vesnina at the 2016 Volvo Car Open. My name is Brooks Giardina and I am pleased to be bringing you point-by-point updates and taking you through this enticing clash here on VAVEL—one of the fastest-growing newspapers in the world. From now until the match, which is scheduled to be played at 10 AM PST or 1 PM EST, news, updates, and match notes will be posted to get you up to speed.