Sloane Stephens stayed composed throughout an all-American US Open final and played near-perfect tennis to win her maiden grand slam title with a 6-3 6-0 victory against Madison Keys on Saturday.
The 24-year-old, back this summer from almost a year off the courts because of a foot injury, was never in trouble as her defensive play derailed the 15th-seeded Keys, who was playing with a heavily bandaged right thigh.
"It's incredible. I honestly had surgery Jan 23 and if someone had told me I'd win the US Open I would have said it's impossible," said the unseeded Stephens who, after celebrating, sat down and chatted with Keys.
"Madi is one of my best friends on tour and to play her here, I wouldn't have wanted to play anyone else. I told her I wish it could be a draw and if it was the other way around she'd do the same. To stand here with her today is incredible, that's what real friendship is."
Keys noted, "Sloane is truly one of my favourite people and to get to play her was really special. Obviously I didn't play my best tennis today and I was really disappointed but Sloane was very supportive and if there was someone I had to lose to today I'm glad it's her."
In the first all-American US Open women's final since Serena Williams beat her sister Venus in 2002, Stephens made only six unforced errors to frustrate Keys.
She sealed a straightforward win on her third match point when Keys sent yet another forehand into the net.
Stephens welcomed the biggest victory of her career with a low-key smile, going into the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands to hug her coach, Kamau Murray, before embracing her mother.
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