Hopes of an all American final on the clay of Parma were dashed when Chinese sixth seed Qiang Wang beat Sloane Stephens in straight sets to set up a final against Cori Gauff on Saturday. Looking to follow the footsteps Chinese ex French Open champ Li Na by winning Roland Garros, Wang started the brightest on the Parma dirt breaking Sloane’s serve in the very first game. helped in part by unforced errors from the American. Wang’s movement was impressive and somewhat intimidating. Watch game point on deuce advantage to her. She moves slowly in court towards net confusing Sloane as to which shot to attempt next opting for the weak backhand which Wang gobbles up with thanks. Wang was strong during rallies as well therefore in no time she went a double break up 3-0 a lead she would not relinquish to win the first set 6-2.
A better set was needed in the second for Stephens and she obliged almost instantaneously. Watch 1-1 on her serve game point 40-30. The shot of the match showed that the best form of defense is attack when you have been outplayed for most of the match. The return by Wang was good, deep into the corner of the Sloane’s court , the American countering with a backhand rocket down the line (above the highest part of the net). That seemed to give her confidence as she broke nest game to go 3-1 up then 4-1 punishing some short returns from Wang. From 5-1 up , there it went all eerily wrong for the unseeded American. She lost the deuce game in a deflating way having had set point. Wang again with the deep forehands into the corner. The double break was soon wiped out and we went into a tie breaker. Wang was dominant sensing that Sloane was there for the taking. Watch 4-1 in the breaker on the Chinese’s serve. Stephens slow in covering her right hand side of the court was way deep away from the baseline. Sometimes just the movement can plant doubt into your opponents’ mind even if you play a bad shot, Sloane lacked it. Wang closed out the match 7-3 in the breaker.