WTA Rogers Cup: Caroline Wozniacki ends Sloane Stephens' run in semifinals

After four hard-fought wins, Sloane Stephens' Cinderella run was halted in the semifinals of the Rogers Cup, falling to sixth seed Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets.

WTA Rogers Cup: Caroline Wozniacki ends Sloane Stephens' run in semifinals
Caroline Wozniacki celebrates a win in Toronto. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Caroline Wozniacki
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Sloane Stephens

2010 Rogers Cup champion Caroline Wozniacki will look to become the first woman this century to win the Rogers Cup in two different cities as she booked her place in the final with a straight-sets semifinal win over Sloane Stephens. The powerful Stephens was enjoying her best run since missing a year with injury, but she could not keep up with the consistency of Wozniacki, who ended the American’s dream run with a 6-2, 6-3 victory.

Slow start from Stephens proves costly

After four matches, including three three-setters, Stephens seemed sluggish to start the match, struggling to keep the ball in play. In her first service game of the match, errors saw her fall behind 15-40. On break point, she seemed to do everything right, drawing Wozniacki into the midcourt and ripping a huge forehand into the Dane’s feet, only for her opponent to hit a perfect half-volley drop shot to take an immediate 2-0 lead. Wozniack then held to love to consolidate the break.

Sloane Stephens hits a backhand, the shot she struggled most with on Saturday. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Sloane Stephens hits a backhand, the shot she struggled most with on Saturday. Photo: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The backhand was letting Stephens down in a big way. Serving at 1-4, 30-30, she committed back-to-back backhand unforced errors, one into the net and one long, to hand Wozniacki a second break. Serving for the set at 5-1, the sixth seed blinked, failing to convert her set point at 40-30, before missing a backhand of her own to give Stephens a break point. The American would rip a forehand winner to reclaim the first break. It would all be for not, however, as once again the backhand was Stephens’ undoing. From 15-15, she committed three consecutive backhand errors to hand Wozniacki the opening set.

No stopping Wozniacki

Two different women came out to start the second set. Suddenly, Stephens could not miss with her powerful groundstrokes, while errors were starting to creep into the Dane’s game. Stephens would break to love in the opening game of the second set, converting with a backhand crosscourt winner. But Wozniacki did not panic. She battled to break point in the following game and, despite a net cord denying her at the first time of asking, the American dumped an easy volley into the net on the second break point to level things at 1-1.

Wozniacki would be forced to save more break points in the following game, but quickly turned the tables after holding. Stephens was back to committing error after error and handed the break lead to the sixth seed in the next game. The back-and-forth continued as Wozniacki returned the favour in the following game, missing a swinging volley at 30-30 before sending a backhand long on break point.

Wozniacki lines up a forehand. Photo; Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
Wozniacki lines up a forehand. Photo; Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Stephens would once again be forced to save break points in the following game, although this time she managed to hold. But Wozniacki kept pressing and the American would crack again. Serving at 3-4, deuce, Stephens double-faulted to give her opponent a break point. She sent a backhand long to move Wozniacki to within a game of victory. The final game would have to wait, as the long-awaited rain finally arrived, forcing the ladies to take a seat, but luckily the delay on lasted five minutes. When they stepped back onto the court, the delay had done nothing to halt the 2010 champion’s momentum, as Wozniacki held to book her place in her sixth final of 2017.

By the numbers

As expected, this match was a battle of offence vs. defence, and the statistics showed it. Stephens threw the kitchen sink at Wozniacki, but missed the target almost twice as often as she found it. The American committed 41 unforced errors to only 22 winners. Wozniacki, while only hitting eight winners, only committed 11 unforced errors. The Dane’s incredible defence negated her opponent’s powerful assault at every turn. In the end, Wozniacki won 59 percent of Stephen’s service points, breaking serve six times.

In the final, Wozniacki will meet either defending champion Simona Halep, or world number five Elina Svitolina, who defeated Wozniacki in the Dubai final earlier this year.