By Tucker Verdi
Jelena Ostapenko was ranked No. 47 in the world when she lifted the trophy at Roland Garros in June of last year, becoming the first unseeded player to win the French Open in the Open Era.
Sloane Stephens was ranked No. 83 in the world when she claimed the title in Flushing Meadows in September of 2017, just since weeks after her ranking had dropped to No. 957 because of an 11-month absence due to foot surgery.
On Monday, Ostapenko will be No. 5 for sure – No. 4 with a win – and Stephens will make her top 10 debut at No. 9.
Coming into Miami, the Latvian Ostapenko was 4-7 on the year and the American Stephens was 3-4. This tournament marks a season turnaround for both, capping their deepest runs of 2018 respectively, with each player defeating two top-10 players en route to the final.
This will be their first meeting, and the final pairs two opposing strong skillsets this fortnight. Ostapenko’s aggressive offensive firepower on serve has been deadly for her opponents, winning over 75% of her service games. Stephens, on the other hand, has broken her opponents 31 times, with an astounding 67% of her return games won.
The 20-year-old Latvian has yet to drop a set in Key Biscayne, but has lost 46 games. The 25-year-old American has given up 2 sets, but only lost 33 games in her matches.
Notably, Stephens has played in 5 WTA finals in her career, claiming the title each time and only dropping a set once. Ostapenko is 2-3 in finals, but has won her last two in Paris and Seoul.
The Miami Open title is up for grabs, and two accomplished young players are looking to add the trophy to their mantles.
The Women’s Singles Final is Saturday, March 31 at 1:00 PM. Tickets can still be purchased atmiamiopen.com/daily-tickets.
About the Miami Open presented by Itaú
The 2018 Miami Open will be played March 19-April 1 at the Crandon Park Tennis Center in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Miami Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men's and women's tennis players in the world. The tournament is widely regarded as the most glamorous on the ATP and WTA calendars because of its exotic Miami location, thriving nightlife, five-star hotels and restaurants, beautiful weather and beaches, and its celebrity appeal. For ticket information, call +1.305.442.3367 or visit www.miamiopen.com.
Itau is the largest Latin America privately owned bank, with approximately 94,000 employees and operations in 19 countries throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Itaú’s relationship with sport goes back to the 1970s, when Itaú first sponsored the Itaú Tennis Cup in Brazil in 1970. Itaú has been a sponsor of the Miami Open for the last six years, and also sponsors the Rio Open, the only combined ATP/WTA event in South America. Itaú also supports the Brazilian Women’s Tennis Circuit, only female professional tournament in South America, certified by the Brazilian Tennis Confederation (CBT) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), as well as the Tennis Institute Training Center, responsible for the development of young, new talent.
IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion, events and media, operating in more than 30 countries. The company represents and manages some of the world’s greatest sports figures and fashion icons; stages hundreds of live events and branded entertainment experiences annually; and is one of the largest independent producers and distributors of sports media. IMG also specializes in sports training; league development; and marketing, media and licensing for brands, sports organizations and collegiate institutions.