NEW YORK -- Just weeks after her return from a layoff because of foot surgery, Sloane Stephens defeated friend and fellow American Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0 on Saturday to become the third consecutive unseeded player to win the U.S. Open women's title.
Stephens broke Keys twice in the first set and benefited from her foe's 17 unforced errors to seize the early advantage.
Stephens then took a commanding lead in the second set as she cruised to her first Grand Slam title in dominant fashion. Stephens finished with 60 total points won to Keys' 39 and committed only six unforced errors to 30 for Keys in the match.
Sidelined for nearly a year after sustaining a right foot stress fracture, Stephens returned to competitive tennis at Wimbledon with a first-round exit against Alison Riske. Three weeks later at the Citi Open in Washington, she again lost in the first round, but put together back-to-back semifinals runs in August at the Rogers Cup in Toronto and at the Cincinnati Open.
With only two players seeded in the top 10 advancing to the quarterfinals -- No. 1 Karolina Pliskova and No. 9 Venus Williams -- the draw appeared open for the taking, and Stephens and Keys entered the finals in vastly different circumstances.
Keys advanced with a breezy 6-2, 6-2 sweep of 20th-seeded American CoCo Vandeweghe in the semifinals, while Stephens had to rebound from a second-set smashing from Williams to win 6-1, 0-6, 7-5. Stephens similarly labored in the quarterfinals, with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4) win over 16th-seed Anastasija Sevastova, while Keys swept Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-3.
Keys, the 22-year-old native of Boca Raton, Fla., entered the tournament ranked 16th on the WTA tour, with consecutive U.S. Open fourth-round exits.
Like Stephens, she was injured early in the season, also missing the Australian Open after having offseason wrist surgery. Keys returned in March to try to build on a strong 2016, when she advanced to the fourth round of each of the Grand Slams.
NOTES: On the 60th anniversary of Althea Gibson's first of back-to-back U.S. Open championship wins, Stephens became just the fourth African-American woman to win a Grand Slam title, following Gibson, Venus and Serena Williams. ... The all-American semifinals was the first of its kind since 1981. ... Stephens is the first American not named Williams to win the U.S. Open since Lindsay Davenport in 1998.