Stephens, Bertens victoriously open round-robin play in Red Group

After Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova recorded the first two victories in the White Group on Sunday, Sloane Stephens and Kiki Bertens were the first players to score winning points in the Red Group of the WTA Finals in Singapore on Monday, both prevailing in three sets.

Sporting the Court Top and Court Flouncy Skirt from Nike’s new winter collection, Stephens won the battle of the WTA Finals debutantes by overcoming Naomi Osaka, the player that inherited her at the US Open throne last month. After the first two sets lasted one hour and 47 minutes, the decider was straightforward, as Stephens capitalized on her opponent’s erratic play, 7-5 4-6 6-1.

The result in the third set would have been at least a bit less lopsided had Osaka not refused to challenge a call in the second game when Stephens appeared to double fault.

In the second match on Monday, the lowest seed Kiki Bertens stunned top seed Angelique Kerber 1-6 6-3 6-4. Bertens, who entered the tournament by virtue of world No.1 Simona Halep’s withdrawal, committed five double faults, won just one out of eight points on second serve and converted zero break points in the first set, which quickly handed Kerber the initial lead, but from the eighth game in the second set, the German dropped serve five times in a row, shifting the momentum to the Dutchwoman’s side and giving her a 4-3 lead on serve in the decider. The eighth-seeded Bertens wildly celebrated when she closed out, as her victory seemed highly unlikely after Kerber’s confident first set.

Tuesday’s schedule starts with Caroline Wozniacki vs. Petra Kvitova, followed by Elina Svitolina vs. Karolina Pliskova, the continuation of White Group matches.

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