SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Sloane Stephens was disappointed but proud with her performance in Singapore after the American started well before fading to a 3-6 6-2 6-2 defeat by Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina in the WTA Finals title match on Sunday.
Making her debut at the season-ending championship, Stephens ended pool play with a spotless 3-0 Red Group record and eased past Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber in the semis before coming up short in the final.
“I feel a little bit of disappointment and sad, obviously. But, I don’t know how to put it, I did better than most of the players did even to get here, and then to beat all the great players that I did,” Stephens told reporters.
“I’m sad, but I know that if I keep doing what I’m doing and I keep working hard, there will be way more opportunities just like this one.
“That’s what I can look forward to. I mean, I can be happy with it not going my way today because I did my absolute best and sometimes you just fall a little bit short.”
Stephens and Svitolina both struggled for form in the second half of the season and the American believes their run to the final should go some way towards silencing the critics who had questioned their places in the elite eight-woman event.
“My season has been a lot better than a lot of the other players that are playing on the tour with us all the time. I can be really proud, I can be happy. Obviously, she (Svitolina) can be proud and happy too. She had a great season,” Stephens said.
“Whether people want to believe it or not, they want to say, ‘Oh, you didn’t do this, you didn’t do that’, but like I said before, it only matters how you feel and how you think you have done.
“If that propels me or her to do really well in Australia or in the hard court season coming up, again, it is what it is, but I think that, yeah, we both are very deserving, and I thought it was a great final.”
Stephens reached four finals this year.
“I lost three of them but to really great players and I tried my butt off,” she said. “And people are out there saying ‘she shouldn’t have even made it to those finals’. Whatever. Yeah, okay, but I did. So how about that?
“So it is what it is, but like I said, if you’re proud of what you’re doing and you’re happy with it, then snaps to you.”
Reporting by John O'Brien, editing by Ed Osmond