By Jaclyn Stacey
(January 21, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Sloane Stephens continued her dream run at the Australian Open, defeating young Serbian Bojana Jovanovski in a tough three set match 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 on Monday to set up a quarterfinal clash with Serena Williams on Wednesday.
Stephens is a part of the next generation of American tennis players and will compete in her first Grand Slam quarterfinal against her idol Williams. The two played recently in Brisbane, Williams winning that match in straight sets 6-4, 6-3.
Stephens served superbly with 80% of first serves in during the match. She also managed 90% of returns into play and created 11 break point opportunities in the match, converting 7 of them.
The young American required only 25 minutes to win the first set, allowing Jovanovski just one game before claiming the set 6-1.
The Serbian came back firing in the second set however, picking up her game considerably and playing more aggressively to level the match at one set a piece.
The third set was very evenly matched as the two struggled to hold serve early on. With the set level at 5-5 Stephens put her foot down and broke Jovanovski to love with a forehand winner. From there she closed out the match on serve 6-1 3-6 7-5 to progress to the quarterfinals.
“No, I obviously didn’t feel like I had to go for more because I was hitting the ball in the service line every time. At one point I was just like, Okay, I didn’t want to stay out there all day, you got to hit the ball or go home.”
“First set I came out, I was playing good, not missing much. She was making a few errors.”
“Then she brought it full force second, third set. I just had to find a way. I think mentally it was pretty tough. I was thinking, Oh, my God, this is for the quarters of a Grand Slam and I’m completely just like not here right now. I was like, I need to refocus. I was playing my own self, I guess you could say. But I managed to get through, so that was good.”
Stephens will play her mentor Serena Williams in the quarterfinal after the top American crushed her Russian opponent Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-0 in 57 minutes.
Stephens said that having already played Williams in the past will take away the intimidation factor coming into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
“Yeah, I mean, it will be tough obviously. Its quarters of a Grand Slam. There won’t be that like first time, Oh, my God, I’m playing Serena. That’s kind of out of the window now. So that’s good. And then it will feel more of like a regular match instead of all the other like things to think about.”
“She’s obviously one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Without all that, it’s still a tennis match. You have to go out and play your game, no matter what. Without the titles, with the titles, it’s still a tennis match. The court’s the same size. You’re still playing a regular person across the net. You’ve just got to go out and play.”
Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.