Spirited Stephens bags Auckland title as Melbourne looms

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 09, 2016 12:41 AM

(Reuters) - Sloane Stephens ground down unseeded German Julia Goerges 7-5 6-2 to win the Auckland Classic on Saturday, the American ending a busy day at the office with a confidence-boosting triumph ahead of the Australian Open.

The world number 30, a former semi-finalist at Melbourne Park, secured her second WTA title, having made her long-awaited breakthrough at Washington in August.

Although she overpowered the German in a dominant second set, Stephens was made to work hard for the title, needing to first wrap up her rain-interrupted semi-final with former world number one Caroline Wozniacki 6-2 7-6(3) earlier on Saturday.

Their semi-final was suspended on Friday with fifth seed Stephens leading 5-2 in the first set.

Stephens quickly sealed the opener upon resumption before prevailing in a second-set dog fight on a windswept center court to set the platform for her triumph later in the day.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by John O'Brien)