She made her way into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Elise Mertens on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday night that was a bit more hard than the score indicated, but it was a solid effort.
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The Latvian, who retired from tennis five years ago due to injuries and illness before returning in 2015, can expect another stern challenge on Thursday, in the form of 23-time grand slam singles champion Williams or Pliskova, another former world number one.
Defending champion Rafael Nadal shockingly was shut out in the first set of his U.S. Open quarterfinal before coming back to beat No. 9 seed Dominic Thiem 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) in 4 hours, 49 minutes.
The victory match went to Anastasija Sevastova 6-2, 6-3 and it was the press conference afterwards that Stephens told her own tale of woe saying "I didn't convert and play the big points well and you don't win matches when you don't take the opportunities.Mentally, physically I just wasn't connecting".
"I just play them instinctively, and that's how they work, or don't work sometimes".
Sevastova said she'd watch Tuesday night's match with interest to see who emerges as her last-four foe. Stephens clawed back to 4-3 and had chances to level up but Sevastova's drop shots caught her off guard time and again and a particularly devilish one presented her with the chance to serve for the match.
The Latvian had no apparent power or pace, but she had the touch and variety to smother Stephens' game. She received a wild card into last year's U.S. Open and became the youngest player ever to make the girls' final. "She's feeling it, Sloane, so much tougher on that end", was the phrases commentators used when describing the quarterfinal match between Sloane Stephens and Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The Open announcers said that she was battling a cold, and the absolutely stifling conditions weren't helping her energy level. I was thinking, OK, maybe a couple of years, play top 100.
"It was an incredible journey, this three, four years".
"In the end it's incredible, you can't believe it. So after I stop at some point I will look at it and I will be proud of myself, for sure". "I think she lost also her nerves a little bit, it's normal".
"Either way, against Serena or Karolina, it's going to be a tough match".