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 at miamiopen.com/daily-tickets.