A confident Sloane Stephens stormed into a semi slot at the WTA Finals with a convincing straight sets victory against top seed Angelique Kerber on Friday, joining fellow debutant Kiki Bertens in the knockout stage.
The former US Open champion continued her unbeaten run in Singapore with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph in 101 minutes, her fifth straight-sets victory in a row over Kerber.
After topping Red Group, Stephens will play Czech Karolina Pliskova in the semi-finals.
For the first time since 2003, none of the top four seeds advanced to the semi-finals of the WTA Finals.
“I stayed solid the whole time knowing there was a lot on the line,” Stephens said after the match.
“I knew it was going to be a battle and just tried to play as hard as I could.”
The match started tensely, with Kerber unable to convert seven break points in Stephens’ first three service games, and the missed opportunities proved costly.
An energetic Stephens made her pay by converting all three of her break points to draw first blood.
The American impressively counterattacked and pinpointed the lines to frustrate Kerber, who survived an injury scare when she landed awkwardly midway through the first set.
Kerber was immediately under pressure in the second set and saved seven break points in the fourth game before cracking under the pressure.
There was still fight left in the German, who broke straight back but continued to struggle on serve.
On her fifth break point, Stephens claimed the decisive break in the eighth game and then served it out to knock out the Wimbledon champion.