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Stephens, Svitolina book title duel

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SINGAPORE — Sloane Stephens overcame a terrible start against Karolina Pliskova to win 0-6, 6-4, 6-1 at the WTA Finals on Saturday, setting up a championship match against Elina Svitolina.

“I came out here a little bit nervous and I wasn’t quite feeling the ball,” said the fifth-seeded Stephens, who is making her debut at the tournament this year.

“I just tried to stay in it. I was very proud of my effort today.”

Both Svitolina and Stephens posted 3-0 round-robin records before winning their semifinals.

Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, let out a huge yell on breaking her Czech opponent’s serve in the third game of the second set after trailing 6-0, 2-0.

From there Stephens found her footing and seventh-seeded Pliskova began to derail.

After Stephens had lost the first eight games, the American said she was thinking “I made it all the way to the semifinal, and I’m going to lose? I was, like, I’m going to lose 0-0. It’s like I’m trying so hard. Nothing’s working. But then I won one game. Then you know the rest.”

Stephens reached her second Grand Slam final at the French Open in June. She has won one title at Miami this season.

Pliskova was only a point away from a 3-0 lead in the second set.

I came out here a little bit nervous and I wasn’t quite feeling the ball.

“I think set and a half I was playing very well,” said Pliskova.

Last year, Svitolina became the first Ukrainian woman to play singles at the WTA Finals.

This year Svitolina became the first woman from her country to reach the season-ending final after beating Kiki Bertens 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-4.

“It feels amazing and it was such a tough battle today,” said Svitolina, who pumped her fists and then blew kisses to the crowd after winning.

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