Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Stephens cruises past Mertens and into U.S. Open quarters

Sloane Stephens Sloane Stephens
Tamara Craig | 07 September, 2018, 06:01

She will play the victor of Tuesday's night match between Serena Williams and Karolina Pliskova in the last four.

"So the fact that I made it to the quarter-finals and played some really good matches and I just competed as hard as I could, I mean (there's) a lot to be proud of".

It was a classic Sloane Stephens shot that appeared tohave shown itself at the end part of the match instead of from the beginning.

The 28-year-old retired in 2013 after a succession of injuries drained her motivation.

Stephens was an 83rd-ranked outsider when she roared to the title a year ago, cementing her return from an 11-month injury absence.

The third seed struggled throughout on what is expected to be the hottest day of the US Open, failing to take her chances as Sevastova coped better with the challenging conditions.

"I think you need some time to look at the journey - it was an unbelievable journey these three to four years", she added. When you go to a tournament, it starts all over again. "And when you're winning a tournament, you think that's normal".

Unseeded Millman sends Federer crashing out of US Open
The biggest concern for Djokovic might well have been the conditions as the heat returned to NY after a few days of relief. Osaka had won 22 consecutive games leading into the match, but was tested by Sabalenka, who double-faulted on match point.

Throughout the match Stephens complained about the heat and there were some questions as to whether or not the players should have stayed on.

Serena Williams survived a scare from giant-killer Kaia Kanepi to claim a rollercoaster 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 win and move into the quarter-finals, a step closer to a record-equalling 24th career Grand Slam title. "The first set was so important", said the 19th-seeded Sevastova, who broke Stephens in the final game to pocket the opening set.

Sevastova is one of the wiliest players on tour, mixing up slices, spins and angles and generally making life very uncomfortable for a player like Stephens who feeds off consistency of pace.

Encouraged by her home crowd, the world number three threatened a comeback by getting the match back on serve at 4-3 but was then broken again before Sevastova served out. It was Stephens through who seemed to have gotten the worst of the distraction.

"Obviously it won't be easy", she said. Even when I did have my break opportunities, I just wasn't playing the points well at all. It was just a tough day. It makes you try to do too much if you're practicing trick shots. I didn't play my best.

On Tuesday, Thiem ended a six-match losing streak in Grand Slam fourth rounds not played on clay by posting just his second victory in eight meetings with last year's runner-up Kevin Anderson in straight sets.

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