Defending Champion Sloane Stephens Reaches Fourth Round at US Open
(August 31, 2018) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Defending champion Sloane Stephens is back in the round of 16. The American beat two-time finalist and two-time major champion Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 6-4. The American won three straight games down a break at 3-4 in the second set to close out the match.
“Very happy to be through,” said Stephens. “Obviously little rocky in the second set. I started off well and I played a solid match. So I was happy with that. The fight was good throughout. Really pleased.
“I think my fight was good, but I thought that there were some points that were very crucial, like in the second. When you win or lose those points, sometimes that’s how the matches go. Yeah, she’s right. It was a few points in the second that really kind of changed the match.”
“I played okay,” said Azarenka. “It was just a matter of a few points and those points that I still don’t do enough and they cost me the match.
“I played against No. 3 player in the world with all the chances in the world. That’s a positive. But sitting here, it’s not easy and be optimistic, but I will have to force myself to be that way.”
Stephens has finally leveled her record against the Belarusian at 3-3.
“I think the first couple times I played her, I was just like the”young gun, just happy to be on the court with someone who’s ranked No. 1 in the world and had won a Grand Slam already,” said the third seed. “I think the tables were turned.
“Obviously as a younger player playing someone who’s ranked No. 1 in the world or has had amazing results, when you’re playing them at 20-, 21-year-olds, it’s a bit different. Kind of like when I played Kalinina — how do you say her name? When I played her, I was the older one. She was the younger one. It was just like the matchup is different.
“I think when I played Azarenka the first couple times, it was more like that. Like I said, I was just happy to be on the court with her and competing and pushing her and playing good points and things like that. Not necessarily expecting to win. Now I’m in a position where I fully believe I can win the match, and I go out there ready to execute and ready to play. I think that kind of changes the dynamic of the match.”
The roof had to be closed with light rain coming down in the middle of the second set and stayed closed until the end of the match on Ashe.
Asked it the roof closure changed the momentum of the match Azarenka said: “Of course it was a change of momentum. I won’t be sitting here finding excuses. It’s just what happens. You just have to accept. I just think from the tournament side, if they expecting the showers, I think it might be better to just close the roof right from the beginning. I think it would just be smarter. Hopefully they will do it in the future, but, you know. I’m not going to be sitting here finding any excuses. Not at all.”
Up next for Stephens is Elise Mertens.
Elise Mertens is into he round of 16 for the first time at the US Open. The Belgian bested the Czech Republic’s Barbora Strycova 6-3, 7-6(4).
Latvia’s Anastajia Sevastova rebounded from a set down to beat Russia’s Etkaterina Makarova 4-6, 6-1, 6-2.
Seventh seed Elina Svitolina is into the round of 16 at the US Open for the second straight year beating Wang Qiang 6-4, 6-4. She’ll play No. 19 Anastasija Sevastova on Sunday for spot in the quarterfinals.
“It’s important to take one match at a time,” Svitolina said about her next match. “I believe that I have a game, you know. I have won big tournaments. I beat good players in the past. For me, you know, it’s just, you know, the matter of if I can do it, you know, in a Grand Slam.