Third Time Lucky – Sevastova Knocks Out Defending Champion Stephens at US Open
(September 4, 2018) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Third time was the charm for Anastasjia Sevastova. Under blistering heat and humidity, the Latvian beat defending US Open champion Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-3 to move into her first major semifinal on Tuesday. Stephens beat Sevastova two times before, just last month in Montreal and last year in the quarterfinals of the US Open.
“I think it was third time lucky,” Sevastova said to media. “But again, if I would lose I would also be proud of myself. Three times quarters. It’s not happening every year or every day.”
In the first set Sevastova dictated play. She was 2 for 2 on break points and saved seven against her, hitting 9 winners.
The world No. 3 Stephens could not capitalize on the break point chances, in the first set.
“When you don’t play big points well, the match can get away from you,” Stephens said. “I think that’s what happened today. I didn’t convert. I didn’t play the big points well, and you don’t win matches when you don’t take your opportunities.”
Stephens tried to fight back in the second set after going down 4-2. “I lost my nerves a little bit,” noted the Latvian. “I think she lost also her nerves a little bit. Yeah, it’s normal, I think. It’s for semifinals of US Open. It’s okay, I think, just to show some emotions.”
“Yeah, the game at 4-3, 5-3, this game was very important, and then serving on that (shady) side was easier.” The back and forth eight game of the second set, saw the American with a chance to be even at 4-4, but Sevastova fought back and added variety to her game including dropshots, which had Stephens on the run.
“I think today I just really couldn’t get anything to connect,” Stephens said. “Even when I did have my break opportunities, I just wasn’t playing the points well at all.
“Mentally, physically, I just wasn’t connecting. It just was a really tough day. The heat doesn’t make it any more fun.”
“I have been sick since, I don’t know, since Monday,” said the American. “Bad sinus infection. Whatever. You’ve got to play.
“Like I said, I have been playing well the last matches. Today just was a tough day. I didn’t play my best. I wish I could have played better, but it just wasn’t the day.”
“She’s a great player. Obviously, she plays a little bit different than most girls. She hits a lot of dropshots, she slices, she changes it up a little bit.
“It’s always a difficult match, but I thought she played solid today. Obviously the better player won. It just was a bad day.”
“Tough loss last year,” Sevastova said. “But every loss you learn something, and I was okay if we would play three sets.
“ I was also thinking about that match at 4-1 in the second set, but it happened. I was still proud of this match. I think it was a great match last year, and now look what happened now?”
“I’m going to watch the match against who I’m going to play (Serena Williams vs. Karolina Pliskova). But, yeah, I was also two times in the quarters and I also didn’t look ahead. It’s still long way to go, I think.”
Sevastova who retired from the tour and returned was asked about her journey. “I’m relieved that the match is over in this heat,” she said smiling. “You feel happy. I think you need some time then to look, to look at this journey. It was an amazing journey, this three, four years.
“Right now you’re so in, you’re in the tournament, you’re playing next tournament next week, and you don’t feel it, you know. You think, oh, but in the end it’s amazing, yeah? You can’t believe, yeah. So after I stop at some point I will look at it and I will be proud of myself, for sure.”
“It was an amazing journey, this three, four years.”
As for her potential semifinal opponent, the Latvian said: “Either way, against Serena or Karolina, it’s going to be a tough match. They play aggressive. They serve big. I need to find some solutions. Some drop shots.”
Stephens was asked about what positives she takes out of this tournament she said: “That I could have sh*t the bed in the first round, and that would have been really bad. So the fact that I made it to the quarterfinals and played some really good matches and I just competed as hard as I could, I mean, a lot to be proud of.
“And obviously defending a title is very hard, very difficult. If you were defending, you’d be playing the same exact people all over again, which I didn’t. I made the most of it this week or the last, whatever, 10 days, whatever it was.
“I can be proud of a lot of things that happened the last couple, the matches that I played, so I’m not going to dwell on it. Just keep building. There’s four more tournaments left. I’m just going to try to play the rest of the season as hard as I can and hopefully have some more good results.”
More to follow…