Sloane Stephens finds herself back in US Open quarterfinals

Posted September 07, 2018

It was just a tough day.

Such a run didn't seem likely when she returned to competition in January of 2015, finally healed from a litany of injuries that included debilitating back trouble. At 4-2 with the Latvian leading, Stephens slammed a cross court shot to her opponent that she wasn't able to return, winning the point. "It was important that I won the first set".

The victory match went to Anastasija Sevastova 6-2, 6-3 and it was the press conference afterwards that Stephens told her own tale of woe saying "I didn't convert and play the big points well and you don't win matches when you don't take the opportunities.Mentally, physically I just wasn't connecting". You've got to play.

Serving for the match at 5-3 Williams didn't allow any room for doubt, holding at love with two aces and an overhead smash followed by one last ace.

Sloane Stephens hits a backhand against Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in a quarter-final match on day nine of the 2018 US Open tennis tournament in New York September 4, 2018.

She earned the last of five breaks in the second set to take a 5-3 lead and served it out on her third match point when a tired Stephens put a backhand into the net. There were only a few more games that Sevastova had to do in sealing the round and Stephens' unforced errors were part of the problem which kept appearing like an unwanted guest at a celebration.

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In the first set Sevastova won all the key drawings - the Latvian has implemented 2 out of 2 break points and his serve played 7 Stevens attempts to take the game at the reception.

Having reached her second Grand Slam final at this year's French Open before an encouraging tune-up to Flushing Meadows, Stephens was considered a favourite. I was thinking, OK, maybe a couple of years, play top 100. It looked good when she broke Mertens to start the second, and wouldn't you know it, she gave it right back in the second.

Nadal was tested in his last two rounds, edging past Karen Khachanov in four close sets in round three, before dropping a set to Basilashvili on Sunday.

"In the end it's fantastic, you can't believe it". You can't believe. So, after I stop, at some point I will look at it and I will be proud of myself, for sure.

As endearing as Sevastova's comeback story is, she faces probably the toughest prospect in women's tennis: Serena Williams. "Defending a title isn't defending", she said.