(June 23, 2014) WIMBLEDON – American Sloane Stephens’ streak of reaching the second week at a major was halted at six on Monday at Wimbledon when No. 109 Maria Kirilenko held back her opponent 6-2, 7-6(6) on her sixth match point.
Seventeenth seed Sam Stosur also fell victim to an opening day upset losing to Yanina Wickmayer 6-3, 6-4.
After an easy first set, where the Russian played an aggressive game, in the second set Stephens fought off five match points serving a 5-6. The 18th seed held to take the set to a tiebreak and took a 6-4 lead. Stephens blew two set points as Kirilenko won the next four straight points to take the tiebreak and the match.
Last year Stephens reached quarterfinals at Wimbledon where she lost to the eventual champion Marion Bartoli.
“Obviously Maria is a great player,” Stephens said. “She’s done well here in the past. I knew it was going to be tricky, but that’s like every other Grand Slam first round match.”
“She just played really consistent,” Stephens added. “She’s a good grass court player, so she knows what she’s doing. Obviously, I mean, she just played pretty solid and she went for all of her shots.
“It was a tough day for me.”
“It wasn’t a very good start for sure,” Stosur said. “But I actually didn’t feel like, apart from trying to play that little catch up with the break behind, I felt like I was playing quite well.
“I served very well. Yeah, again, having that break of serve right at the start, for her to get that lead obviously frees her up a little bit. I thought she played very, very well.
“Yeah, early in that second set I had a chance to break serve; didn’t get it. Then it was service games, service games, service games. She gets a let cord at 30-All to get a break; down a break.
“Look, I don’t feel like I played that bad a match, to be honest with you.”
“I think this was one of the best matches I’ve played this year,” said the Belgian who was supported in the stands by former No. 1 Kim Clijsters who is also working with Wickmayer. “I felt really confident out there, and tried to really focus on being aggressive from the first point when she served. I tried to be aggressive on the second serves, and when I had the chance I tried to move in and move forward and serve well myself.
“Open the court up, make her run, work for the points. So I’m really happy about the way I played today.”
Karen Pestaina at Wimbledon