Sloane Stephens eliminated in opening match at Kremlin Cup


MOSCOW — Sloane Stephens was eliminated from the Kremlin Cup on Wednesday, losing to Tunisian qualifier Ons Jabeur 6-3, 6-2.

The third-seeded Stephens, who had a first-round bye, lost her opening service games in each set.

Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, secured qualification for the WTA Finals last week after a strong season which included reaching the French Open final.

Jabeur will next face Anett Kontaveit in the quarterfinals. The eighth-seeded Estonian beat Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 7-6 (3).

Meanwhile at the season-ending WTA Finals, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitolina secured the last two places despite neither winning a match Wednesday at the Kremlin Cup.

The fifth-ranked Pliskova lost to Russian veteran Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 6-2, giving the idle Svitolina a spot in the tournament in Singapore.

Kiki Bertens then lost to Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 a short time later, handing Pliskova the final spot. Bertens, however, could still make it if top-ranked Simona Halep skips the tournament with a back injury. Halep withdrew from the Kremlin Cup because of the injury.

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