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Stephens vs Jabeur WTA Moscow Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Stephens opens Moscow campaign against Tunisian qualifier, Jabeur

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 16 Oct 2018
  • Sloane Stephens vs Ons Jabeur is live from Moscow on Wednesday, 17 October from 11:00am local time/ 9:00am BST
  • Stephens and Jabeur meet for the first time
Sloane Stephens. (Photo by GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

Fresh from booking her spot at the season-ending WTA Finals, Sloane Stephens opens her Moscow campaign on Wednesday against Tunisian qualifier, Ons Jabeur.

Stephens will compete at the WTA Finals for the first time in her career, as she further establishes herself amongst the elites of the women's game. 

It has been a remarkable transformation for Stephens, who had gone perilously close to falling out of the top 1000 just over a year ago after missing 11 months due to foot injury and surgery. However, in a dramatic re-entry into the sport, the American sensationally claimed her first Grand Slam title at the US Open in just her fifth tournament back from that long spell on the sidelines, vaulting into the top 20 as a result.

Stephens initially struggled to deal with her new status as a major champion, losing eight straight matches after her US Open success. That run spilt into 2018, as she suffered consecutive defeats in Sydney and the Australian Open to open the year, but she snapped that streak with a quarter final in Acapulco, and just under a month later, she was celebrating a maiden Premier Mandatory title in Miami. A superb week at Key Biscayne featured wins over Grand Slam champions, Garbine Muguruza, Angelique Kerber, Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko.

A decent clay court season, including third-round runs in Madrid and Rome exploded to life at Roland Garros, where Stephens reached her second Grand Slam final. She had the measure of Simona Halep through the first half of the final, leading by a set and a break, but Halep would prove too good in the end, emerging with a three-set victory as the American faded towards the end. An OK spell on America soil yielded another final in Montreal, where she lost to Halep once again, while her title defence at Flushing Meadows ended with a disappointing straight sets loss to Anastasija Sevastova in the quarter finals. Stephens failure to defend her US Open title cost her a few ranking spots, as she dropped from No. 3 to No. 9 after New York, and her cause was not helped a slow start in Asia, where she lost back-to-back matches Tokyo and Wuhan. She managed a couple wins in Beijing, beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Saisai Zheng before losing to Dominika Cibulkova. That turned out to be good enough to earn a maiden appearance in Singapore.

Stephens will now try to finish the season in the best possible way, and a good run in Moscow will set her up nicely for a tilt at the WTA Finals title.

First up for the American in Russia is Tunisian qualifier, Jabeur.

After breaking into the top 100 in 2017, the year she reached the third round of the French Open, Jabeur has not quite been able to build on that, and she arrived Moscow just outside the top 100 at 101 in the world.

Ons Jabeur. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images for LTA)
A poor start to 2018 saw her lose her first five matches across WTA main draw and qualifying, while she won just one of her first ten matches. With her ranking pulling further away from the top 100, Jabeur had to step down to the ITF level, where she reached a quarter final at the 60K event at Indian Harbour Beach in Florida, and a semi-final at the 100K meet in Cagnes-Sur-Mer in France. By the end of the clay-court season, she had fallen as low as 180 in the world.

However, Jabeur climbed back into the top 150 with a fine title-run at the 100K tournament on the grass of Manchester, earning a wildcard into Wimbledon for her efforts, while she followed it up with a quarter final in Ilkley as she found her feet on grass. That translated into her first tour-level win of the season at Wimbledon, where she defeated Viktorija Golubic in the first round before losing a really tight one to Katerina Siniakova in the second round, 9-7 in the deciding set.

While she has not set the tour alight, her second half of the year has been much better than the opening six months. She reached her first quarter final of the season in Bucharest, qualified for the US Open, and made the second round in Quebec City and Beijing, where she beat world number one, Simona Halep in the first round, albeit via retirement...

Jabeur has already put together a solid run in Moscow, coming through three rounds of qualifying before dismissing Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 6-2 in an excellent first-round win. She has got some momentum going, and she is a dangerous player when she is on. The Tunisian strikes the ball powerfully, and has a good mix of slices and drop shots. With Sloane Stephens' penchant for slow starts, this could be a difficult one for the American.

With her Singapore spot already in the bag, can Stephens maintain her intensity and put away a tricky opponent in her Moscow opener?

Sloane Stephens vs Ons Jabeur is live from Moscow on Wednesday, 17 October from 11:00am local time/ 9:00am BST

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify 

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Stephens vs Jabeur WTA Moscow Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Stephens opens Moscow campaign against Tunisian qualifier, Jabeur

Sloane Stephens opens her Moscow campaign against Ons Jabeur on Wednesday. Will the American move past the Tunisian qualifier? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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