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Stephens kicks off 2016 season with win in Auckland

January 9, 2016 03:59 PM

By Sally Milano, USTA.com

Sloane Stephens' 2016 season got off to a great start Saturday, when the 22-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., won two matches in one day to capture the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, for her second career WTA title.

Stephens, seeded fifth in the draw, started the day by defeating No. 3 seed Caroline Wozniacki in a semifinal match that had been suspended by rain on Friday, with the American leading 5-2 in the first set. She went on to defeat the Dane, 6-2, 7-6 (3), Saturday morning and then, later in the afternoon, topped Julia Goerges, 7-5, 6-2, to claim the title.

"You can never prepare for playing a set and then rain, then finishing the match the next morning and coming back again in the afternoon. You just have to keep going and do your best," Stephens told WTATennis.com after defeating Goerges in the final.

Stephens has performed well during the Australian hard-court season in past years, including her stunning upset over Serena Williams en route to the 2013 Australian Open semifinals.

"We have a really long season – I have to play all the way until October – so to win a tournament in the first week of the year is amazing," Stephens said. "But I'm going to have many more opportunities throughout the year, and I'm looking forward to all of them. It's easier to look at it that way."

Stephens, who captured her first WTA title last summer in Washington, D.C., was scheduled to play the Hobart International in Hobart, Australia, next week but withdrew from the touranment with a viral illness.

She is expected to compete in the year's first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, when it gets underway in Melbourne starting Jan. 18.