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Former U.S. Open champ Stephens qualifies for first WTA finals

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By Reuters
Former U.S. Open champ Stephens qualifies for first WTA finals
Tennis - China Open - Women's Singles - Third Round - National Tennis Center, Beijing, China - October 3, 2018. Sloane Stephens of the U.S in action against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia. REUTERS/Thomas Peter   -   Copyright  THOMAS PETER(Reuters)

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Former U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens has qualified for her first season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore, the WTA Tour said on Monday.

Stephens joins fellow Grand Slam champions Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova and Caroline Wozniacki in the singles field for the Oct. 21-28 event.

Two spots remain open for the elite eight-player field, with Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova in prime position to qualify for the round-robin tournament that offers $7 million (5.34 million pounds) in prize money.

“I’m honoured to qualify for my first WTA Finals,” said Stephens, who was runner-up to Halep at Roland Garros earlier this year. “I’m looking forward to … competing against the best players of the season.”

The American also won her first Premier-level event in Miami earlier this year and rose to a career-high ranking of three in July. The 25-year-old was also a runner-up in Montreal.

Stephens won her first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows in 2017 but was knocked out in the quarter-finals by Anastasija Sevastova this year.

Osaka won the U.S. Open, while Kerber won Wimbledon and Wozniacki clinched the Australian Open title this year.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)