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Volvo Car Open finals: Stephens defeats qualifier Vesnina in straight sets

VCO Finals Stephens def. Vesnina in straight sets (326).JPG

Sloane Stephens is the newest champion of the Volvo Car Open after defeating Russian qualifier Elena Vesnina 7-6 (4), 6-2.

The long run through Charleston has been a long time coming for Stephens, who before this week held a 1-5 record in the Holy City. This year, Stephens went on a 5-0 match run through the tournament to win her third title of the year.

"Obviously coming into here I have a lot of anxiety coming into this tournament because I've never done well here. And I was just thinking, like I said, I changed my mindset," Stephens said. "I have nothing to lose. I've only won one match here ever, and just go out and play and have fun because I mean it's just another week."

The finals match was hardly a coronation, though. She nearly lost the first set. Vesnina had a try at set point. Stephens said she couldn't let Vesnina take the set without a fight.

"I knew I was going to get my opportunity somehow, some way if I just battled every point. And I think it worked. I just made sure I got every ball back and made her play, and that's all you can do when you're in a situation like that," Stephens said.

Vesnina said it appeared as though Stephens was everywhere on the court.

"You know what, Sloane, if she would give me a little chance, I felt it on the court, I would take it. I knew I needed a little bit more luck and I will be back, you know, I will be back on the court and it's going to be one set all. But she was just solid, better, moving amazingly and defending amazingly," Vesnina said.

"And then at the same time she was really quick, coming from the defense to the offense. She was like coming innside the court, playing with the super angle shots."

The players on the tour know to stay away from Stephens' forehand shot when she's playing well. Vesnina learned the Stephens backhand could send a ball down the line and out of reach just as effectively when the seeded player is one fire.

"I think definitely a lot of girls have tried to just go direct to my backhand, and I think for me it's just I've gotten really solid off both sides. So yeah, I think it's kind of -- it's not really a weakness anymore," Stephens said.

And then there's the car.

While every tournament comes with a trophy and a lot of fanfare after the final match, the newly rebranded Volvo Car Open came with a car. It was the same car Stephens drove during a Volvo promotional shoot earlier in the week.

She was dumbfounded when it was announced she would be taking it home, as well.

"Did you all know I was going to get a car?" she asked during a post match press conference. "Me neither. That was crazy."

Stephens said she loved driving the car earlier in the week and told her coach they needed to get one.

"Then the other day we were eating across the street, and I was like, 'Oh my god, there's the car that I drove!' And he's like, 'Oh, that's nice,'" Stephens said. "Now it's mine. So yeah."

Now that Charleston is done, Stephens says she's heading back to Los Angeles for a break before heading to Europe as preparation for Roland Garros.

"I'm going to play Madrid and Rome and then I'm entered in Strasbourg, but I'm not 100 percent sure if I'm going to play there or not. Just depends on how I do the first two weeks," she said.

"And then I'm going to play in Paris, so it's not that long."

For Vesnina, who has played seven matches in eight of the tournament's nine days, Sunday night means a chance to rest and explore Charleston. She says she plans to head to downtown Charleston for dinner with friends.

Then it's back to work for the two-time Charleston finalist.

"And then next week it's going to be Fed Cup," Vesnina said.

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