FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY â€“ Â No. 12 seed Ana Ivanovic ended the hopes of American teen Sloane Stephens at the US Open on Saturday night surviving to advance via a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-2 victory.
At one point in the second set Ivanovic was two games away from elimination. Despite hitting 56 unforced errors and playing against an American crowd, the Serbian came back to win.
Ivanovic also defeated Stephens at the same stage last year at the US open in straight sets. Stephens at No. 44 in the world in the youngest woman in the top 50 of the WTA rankings. Ivanonic made note in her on-court interview hoe much Stephens has improved.
â€œI expected a very tough match this time around,â€ said Ivanovic. â€œShe’s a great player. She’s improved a lot since last year, as I remembered. Her serve is a lot faster and her forehand, as well.
â€œI thought I played pretty well, said Stephens. â€œ I mean, we played a good match. It was, I mean, some unfortunate things that happened. But other than that it was a good match. I’m happy with the way I’m playing. I’m getting better and improving and I think that’s the most important thing. Compared to how I was last year, I think it’s a big improvement.â€
â€œI think Sloane was by far the toughest opponent of all of them,â€ said Ivanovic , â€œthe most quality player in all of these situations. If I have a good year now, that would be great for me obviously. That was my goal, to return to the top 10 this year. It’s still a long way away. The season, it’s almost over in a way. But I really want to take it one match at a time. I really want to take care of my next match and then see how it progresses.â€
Stephens continued, â€œI always think when I walk on the court that I can compete with whoever I’m playing against. Every opponent is the same. You’re playing someone who is trying to beat you. I made so many leaps and jumps this year. I’m really proud of myself. It’s unfortunate that my US Open ended this way. But I could have lost first round to Schiavone, and I would have fizzled out and that would have been it. I gave it all I had for this tournament. I lost the match tonight. Maybe next year I’ll come back and play Ana Ivanovic in the third round again. I gave it all I had, and that’s really all I can ask for.â€
Ivanovic has not reached the quarterfinals of a major since winning her lone major â€“ the 2008 French Open. Sheâ€™ll get a chance to reach the quarters when she plays Tsvetana Pironkova in the fourth round.
â€œIt’s just another match for me,â€ Ivanovic said.â€ I really try to take it like that. She’s a great player. She’s been in the semifinal of a Grand Slam before. It’s not going to be easy. But it’s definitely a good chance for me, for her. It’s great to be in a position to play for a quarterfinal. Like I said before the tournament, it would be a big goal of mine. So I really want to put my head down and work hard for that match.â€