Former U.S. Open champion, Sloane Stephens, qualifies for first WTA finals

Sloane Stephens qualifies for WTA Finals & Caroline Garcia wins Tianjin Open

She has a first-round bye in Moscow, but has yet to decide whether she is fit enough to play.

Stephens earned her spot following a stellar season which saw her win the Miami Open in March.

"I haven't practiced 100 percent yet but today, tomorrow, I will do close to 100 and I will be able to know better the next day", she continued.

Two spots remain open for the elite eight-player field, with Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova in prime position to qualify for the round-robin tournament that offers $7 million (£5.3m) in prize money. "If I can't play here I'm very doubtful that I will be able to play in Singapore because it's so soon".

Sloane is now ranked 8th but things didn't look that bright for her at the start of the season, winning just three matches in the first four tournaments she played in 2018 before claiming six wins in Miami to lift the title, her biggest after that US Open triumph in 2017.

Apart from a four-week spell at the start of this year when she was briefly overhauled by Caroline Wozniacki, Halep has kept hold of the world No 1 ranking ever since she went top early in October last year. "I give everything I have the first part of the year and then it's hard for me to play", said Halep, who also reached French Open finals in 2014 and 2017 but lost both times.

Hence, as a result, Stephens has managed to qualify for her maiden WTA Finals appearance through a series of excellent results.

"I never gave up, I tried every day to become better and better". So I try just to keep myself calm and to be positive. So it's pretty stressful but somehow it's normal because injuries are pretty normal when you play at the highest level.

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