Sloane Stephens WTA Australian Open 2022

Former Slam champion back to winning ways with 1st WTA title for nearly 4 years

2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens clinched her first title since March 2018 by winning the WTA 250 Zapopan Open in Guadalajara, Mexico on Sunday. 

The American former world number three had not reached a tour level final since the season-ending WTA Finals of 2018, with her last title coming earlier that year at the end of March at the Miami Open.

Now, Stephens has added a seventh tour title by downing Czech Marie Bouzkova 7-5, 1-6, 6-2.

The victory launches her back into the WTA top 40 for the first time since January last year, with Stephens now 39th in the world, but she wants to build momentum to rise far higher.

Stephens said, after winning the title: “It’s the beginning of the season, so there’s still a lot of tennis to be played, but I’m excited to be able to put some matches together.

“[I’m] excited that I was able to do that, get a title, and hopefully continue on with that momentum.

I think I prepared all last year, I committed to training and my fitness and everything.

“Obviously I didn’t get results right away, but now seeing the fruits of that labor blossom is nice.

“I still want to get back to where I was, that’s still really important to me. I think it’s possible, it’s doable, so I’m really excited about that.”

Stephens achieved her career-high of third in the WTA rankings in July 2018, not long after reaching her second career Slam final at the 2018 French Open.

However, the American has since struggled to replicate such form as after going 6-0 in her first six WTA finals she proceeded to go 0-3 in the next three, which extended into her title drought of nearly four years.

During her trophy acceptance speech in Guadalajara, Stephens noted the significance of that drought, saying: “I’m so nervous I haven’t done this in a long time guys.”

Stephens added that she enjoyed her battle with Bouzkova and congratulated the Czech on her week in Mexico.

“I know that you play good tennis here so I was happy to share the court with you today,” Stephens said.

“I wish you all the best and I know that you will have many titles to come so just keep working.

“I feel old telling you you’re going to have many titles to come,” Stephens, 28, told Bouzkova, 23.

The Czech rose from 96th to 81st in the WTA rankings with her run to the final in Guadalajara but is yet to secure a tour level title in her career.

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