Unseeded Sloane Stephens produced an emphatic display to dismantle fellow American Madison Keys and win her first Grand Slam title at the US Open on Saturday.
In the first All-American final since the Williams sisters played each other for the title in 2002, Stephens ran riot to win 6-3 6-0 in a surprisingly one-sided encounter on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Stephens joins 2009 champion Kim Clijsters as the only unseeded women’s champions in the Open era.
“It’s incredible,” said Stephens. “If someone told me when I had surgery that I would win the US Open, it’s impossible I would say. Coming back, just being able to keep it all together, this journey’s been incredible and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
“I should just retire now. I told Maddie I’m never going to top this. Things just have to come together and the last five or six weeks they really have.
“I just have to say thanks to my team because in the toughest times we stuck together. This one’s for all of us.”
The world No 83 used her strong defensive skills to keep rallies alive to outsmart her good friend in the first set. She broke Keys’ serve twice to run away with it 6-3.
The 15th seed, made 17 unforced errors, compared to just two from her unseeded opponent.
And the 24-year-old routed a disconsolate Keys in the next set with a bagel to complete a remarkable victory having been sidelined for 11 months because of a stress fracture in her left foot. She was unable to walk after undergoing surgery in January and only returned to the WTA Tour in July.
Keys, playing with her right thigh heavily strapped, made 30 unforced errors, as a clinical Stephens, who made just six errors in the entire match, closed out the contest in just 61 minutes and become the fifth lowest-ranked woman to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era.
Keys fought back tears as she said: “Sloane is truly one of my favourite people. To play her was really special.
“Obviously I didn’t play my best tennis and was disappointed but Sloane being the great friend she is was very supportive and if there’s someone I had to lose to today, I’m glad it’s her.”