Samantha Stosur closed in on the seventh WTA title of her career with a topsy-turvy win over Sloane Stephens at the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Friday.
WTA Staff

STRASBOURG, France - Samantha Stosur closed in on the seventh WTA title of her career with a topsy-turvy win over Sloane Stephens at the Internationaux de Strasbourg on Friday.

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Last month, Stosur reunited with former coach David Taylor, and the decision has prompted a timely resurgence. Having arrived in Strasbourg with just eight wins to her name all year, the Australian has added four more in just five days. The latest came against WTA Rising Star Stephens, whom she eventually saw off, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0.

On a gusty day, both players struggled at times, but by the time the final set arrived it was Stosur that had fully mastered the tricky conditions, calling on a couple of pin-point forehands to capture the early break. A few games later she had the insurance break, and with the confidence now coursing through her game she hastily made her way across the finishing line.

"I'm glad I played very well. It was a good match from me, it was pretty tough conditions out there most of the match because of the wind, but I handled that quite well," Stosur said.

The No.3 seed was particularly pleased with her final flourish given the form Stephens exhibited in reeling off five straight games to force the decider.

"I made a couple of mistakes on my service game for her to break back and she's a good player so it doesn't take much to let her back into the match," she added. "She made some big shots and kept doing what she was doing and maybe I fell off a little bit.

"But I was able to regroup very quickly to start off the third set well, and I kept going so it was a good response from me."

Stosur, who faced Ajla Tomljanovic a round earlier, will meet yet another WTA Rising Star in the final, after Kristina Mladenovic's unusual week took another twist when semifinal opponent Virginie Razzano retired with an abdominal injury.

Mladenovic, who received a walkover in the previous round when top seed Madison Keys withdrew with an elbow injury, was leading 6-3, 1-2 against Razzano and had mixed emotions when interviewed afterwards about reaching her maiden WTA final.

"It's definitely not the way I would like to go into the final, especially against a good friend of mine, but still I thought it was a great battle and I'm happy I managed to win the first set which was very high intensity," Mladenovic said.

"I'm very happy with how I'm playing this week. It's true that I had tricky last few rounds with the walkover from Madison and today the retirement, but I'm feeling good with my game on clay and hopefully I can take one more step forward tomorrow."