Sloane Stephens' incredible comeback continues with three set win over Julia Goerges at US Open - UBITENNIS
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Sloane Stephens’ incredible comeback continues with three set win over Julia Goerges at US Open

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The incredible US hard court season of American hope Sloane Stephens will continue on into the quarterfinals of the US Open as the former rising star fought past Julia Goerges 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in New York City.

 

As if two straight WTA Premier 5 semifinals in Toronto and Cincinnati wasn’t enough for American Sloane Stephens, the former rising star, returning from a near year-long foot injury, continued her incredible run of from on the US hard courts, booking her spot in the US Open quarterfinals. Stephens, still only 24, wore down big-hitting German Julia Goerges 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 to the delight of a raucous home crowd on the temporary Louis Armstrong Stadium.

The unseeded home hope has been impressive throughout this year’s tournament, beating her second seeded player en route to her first career last eight showing at Flushing Meadows and her first Grand Slam quarterfinal since Wimbledon way back in 2013.

“When I first came back at Wimbledon I was super nervous that it wasn’t going to go my way. I was afraid that the results weren’t going to come the way I wanted them to,” said Stephens in her on-court interview.

“But I honestly couldn’t have asked for a better comeback and a better way to come back to the tour. Obviously making quarterfinals here is unbelievable.”

In the opening set it was pretty evenly-matched early on as the two traded powerful shots back and forth to bring the score to 3-2 on serve. With Goerges serving to level the set at 3-all, two poorly timed forehand errors cost her dearly, giving up the break and a 4-2 lead to Stephens. The American favorite rode that break advantage through the rest of the set, serving it out 6-3 as the German’s forehand continued to let her down as she gave up the first set.

The second set was much better from Goerges, the 30th seed who’s had an incredible summer herself with three finals. The powerful German rebounded immediately in the second set, backing up a routine hold in the first game with an impressive break of serve to go up 2-0 off a powerful forehand overhead winner.

The in-form 28-year-old took good care of her serve as a powerful forehand winner brought up 5-2 for Goerges and forced Stephens to serve to stay in the set. Looking to level the match at a set apiece, the German continued to show some of her powerful brand of tennis as two winners off the ground closed out the game and the second set 6-3.

Sloane Stephens hits a forehand at the US Open in New York City/Zimbio/Matthew Stockman

In the decider it was all Stephens though as the New York City crowd began to spur on the home hopeful as the 30th seed’s game completely unraveled with four unforced errors off the ground to gift the break and 3-1. The errors continued to fly off the racquet of the Germans as she played another disastrous service game with three unforced errors and a double fault pretty much handing a pumped up Stephens the 5-1 lead and a double break.

Looking to serve out a spot in her first US Open quarterfinal, three more errors from Goerges put the last nails in her coffin as Stephens closed the match out with an overhead winner to screams from the raucous Labor Day Weekend crowd.

Following her quality 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over an erratic Goerges, Stephens was jubilant to be into her first major quarterfinal in over four years. “I’m just really happy. Obviously before or when I started playing again at Wimbledon and D.C. I didn’t expect much. I was just playing and having fun, having a good time. I’m still playing and having a good time. That’s really all there is to it,” commented the unseeded American.

Asked in her press conference if she’s been at all surprised by her great comeback and form this US hardcourt season, the 24-year-old said, “Uhm, no. I mean, yes, it surprised me. Obviously, I could never say, Oh, yeah, when I was coming back, I’m going to make two semifinals, a quarterfinal. I would have been like, You’re crazy.”

“But I definitely think that, uhm, I’m playing well. I think it’s more of like putting the matches together, like, that process that makes it a little bit tougher when you’re coming back. I was lucky able to get a lot of those matches in a row, like in Toronto and Cincinnati back-to-back, which during a comeback is not easy. So I think that’s probably where I kind of got a little fortunate there,” said a very thoughtful and candid Stephens.

Sloane Stephens hits a forehand at the US Open in New York City/Zimbio/Matthew Stockman

Up next for the home hope is 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova, who’s into her second straight US Open quarterfinal after a dramatic three set win over five-time major champion Maria Sharapova. Asked about her last eight opponent, the American said, “Well, she’s a great player. I will obviously talk to my coach, just go out and play the game that I’ve been playing. Obviously tweak a few things here and there, but pretty much the same thing.”

“I mean, I played a lot of matches in the last couple weeks. I can’t really change too much. But I’m sure I’ll have a good game plan going into it. That will be that,” concluded Stephens.

Stephens and Sevastova will play their quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday with a spot in the final four on the line in Flushing Meadows.

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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova sees off Angelique Kerber to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open

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Anastasya Pavlyudchenkova battled past Angelique Kerber 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 after 2 hours and 37 minutes to reach her sixth Grand Slam quarter final.

 

Pavlyuchenkova earned her first break with a volley and raced out to a 5-2 lead with a double break with a backhand return. Kerber came back by winning four consecutive games to take a 6-5 lead. Pavlyuchenkova hit seven consecutive winners from 3-5 to take a 3-0 in the tie-break. Kerber won seven of the next nine points from 0-3 down and sealed her first set point with a backhand winner.

Kerber saved two set points at 4-5 and another one at 5-6 in the second set. Pavlyuchenkova closed out the second set on her fifth set point with a return winner.

Pavlyuchenkova went up a double break to race out to a 4-0 lead. Kerber pulled back one of the two breaks with a forehand crosscourt. Pavlyuchenkova earned her third break of the decisive set to open up a 5-2 lead and closed out the match with her fourth ace setting up a quarter final against Garbine Muguruza, who beat Kiki Bertens 6-3 6-3.

“I was there pretty much every point, I mean, I tried to. That always paid off, or at least that gives some sort of confidence. Sometimes there were some moments or matches where I did not feel my best or I did not play my best, but I was still there”, said Pavlyuchenkova.

Anett Kontaveit came back from one set down to beat Polish teenager Iga Switek 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 7-5 becoming the first player from Estonia to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Kontaveit will face Simona Halep in the quarter final.

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Garbine Muguruza Doesn’t Care About Her Ranking As Australian Open Run Continues

The Spanish star has now achieved her best grand slam run in almost two years at Melbourne Park.

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After experiencing a roller coaster 2019 on the tour, Garbine Muguruza looks to be back on track at the Australian Open following her latest triumph.

 

The former world No.1 extended her winning run in Melbourne on Monday with a 6-3, 6-3, win over ninth seed Kiki Bertens. Making it the second top 10 player she has defeated in the tournament after Elina Svitolina. In her latest clash, the Spaniard was broken at the start of both sets, but managed to turn her fortunes around with the help of a dominant display behind her first serve. Where she won 28 out of 31 points. Muguruza also hit 19 winners to 18 unforced errors.

“I feel good in this tournament. I’m super concentrated on every single match, especially because I started the tournament so-so. I feel like my body’s getting healthier.” Said Muguruza.
“It’s a Grand Slam, we are all very concentrated here. For me, it’s one of the tournaments that motivates me the most.”

As a result of her latest win, Muguruza is through to the last eight of a major for the first time since the 2018 French Open. It is only the second time she has managed to reach the quarter-final stage in Melbourne and first since 2017.

The surge comes at a time where the 26-year-old is trying to establish her footing on the tour. Unseeded in the draw, she is currently ranked 32nd in the world. 14 places lower than where she was 12 months ago. Not that it bothers her in any way.

“You know what? Who cares about the ranking, honestly. I feel like it’s just a sign of probably the last results. At the end you go out there and you play.” She explained.
“I don’t even know the rankings of the ones I’m playing. I know who they are. I know the matches we’ve had. But it doesn’t affect me so much.’
“Of course, the higher you are, the more beautiful it is. But it’s not that important to me no more after these years.”

Muguruza’s laid back approach to her current position is understandable given the openness of women’s tennis. The past 12 major tournaments have been won by 10 different players. During that period Naomi Osaka and Simona Halep are the only players to win multiple titles. At present there are 16 active grand slam champions playing on the WTA Tour.

The question remains about whether Muguruza has what it takes to go all the way in Melbourne. No Spanish woman has reached the final of the tournament since Conchita Martinez back in 1998, who coincidentally is now coaching Muguruza on the tour.

“She’s very, very aggressive as she was when she was playing her best tennis.” Martinez told reporters about Muguruza’s current form.
“Physically, I see her (playing) very well. She’s getting to the balls early enough. You can see she’s holding her ground really well, accelerating, finishing at the net a lot. That’s always nice to see.’
“Things like that you can see a little bit more and more. So it’s good to see.”

Muguruza will play either Angelique Kerber or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the next round.

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Grand Slam

Simona Halep Keeps Her Cool To See Off Mertens Challenge

Simona Halep continued her impressive progress through the Australian Open draw with a straight-sets victory over Elise Mertens.

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Simona Halep (@Femei_din_sport on Twitter)

Simona Halep produced a superb performance to beat Elise Mertens 6-4 6-4 and secure her place in the quarter-final of the Australian Open for the fourth time.

 

The Romanian, 28, reached the final two years ago and lost an epic clash to Caroline Wozniacki. She has not dropped a set so far this year and she is probably quietly confident about her chances of winning the title (particularly with all the high-profile exits) but, as she said in her press conference after the previous round, she is focusing on each match as it comes.

“It’s a great performance by me to reach the quarter-finals again,” Halep said in her on-court interview. “I played against (Mertens) in the final in Doha last year. I was leading a set and 4-2 and then lost the match, so I knew I had to stay focused.”

She continued, “I had to calm myself down. When I get a little bit nervous, I get crazy on court. So I had to stay cool to get the energy from my box.”

Halep makes life difficult for Mertens

Halep’s calmness was a feature of the day. She dealt with most of the challenging moments in a composed manner and never let herself get derailed by a poor shot or a lost service. Consequently, she ended up with outstanding statistics: 21 winners and just eight unforced errors.

These numbers reflect the pattern of the match, which was established early on. Mertens went for her shots and tried to hit as many winners as possible. Meanwhile, Halep defended brilliantly and made sure her opponent had to play plenty of long points.

Each extended rally brought with it an increased risk of the Belgian making an unforced error. And it was a method that worked well, as the Romanian won 15 points with this method in the first five games.

With the help of those 15 unforced errors from Mertens, Halep earned a 3-2 lead thanks to a break in game three. During that game, the Belgian cancelled out her own winners with unforced errors. Despite this, she still managed to save three break points before the Romanian eventually seized the break with an excellent forehand winner.

The World No.17’s aggressive approach eventually paid off in game six. She struck three impressive winners to break Halep and make it 3-3.

Unfortunately for Mertens, the Romanian then demonstrated why she is a two-time Grand Slam champion. She put the setback out of her mind immediately and put the Belgian under all kinds of pressure in game seven.

Then Halep raised her game again and hit two stunning forehand winners to break Mertens easily in game nine. She clenched her fist in celebration, and then re-focused to secure the hold she needed to clinch the set 6-4.

Halep withstands Mertens’ fightback

Simona Halep (@AustralianOpen on Twitter)

At the start of the second set, the World No.3 produced some sparkling tennis. She hit a precise forehand winner to seal an immediate break. Then she hit an extraordinary angled backhand winner at full stretch to move 2-0 ahead.

In game three, Mertens was 40-30 ahead. Then Halep hit three consecutive forehand winners to break the Belgian again. At that stage, it looked like she might run away with the set.

However, the World No.17 was not ready to concede defeat just yet. She struck two winners and a powerful forehand to earn three break points. Then the Romanian missed a backhand to confirm the break.

Both players enjoyed a rare love hold to move the score along to 4-2. Then Mertens won a series of long rallies to make it 4-3.

This gave the Belgian a platform to attack Halep’s serve. And she did it to great effect. She drove the Romanian back behind the baseline to win one point. Then she unleashed a huge forehand to earn a break point, followed by a classy volley to seal the break.

Both players contested the next game like their lives depended on it. They engaged in a series of long rallies, and eventually it just came down to which woman held her nerve. Halep eventually took it on her fifth break point when Mertens volleyed just wide.

The Romanian closed the match out clinically. She hit an unreturnable serve, a forehand winner and an ace to move 40-0 up. Then the Belgian missed a backhand and the clash was over.

Halep will now face either Anett Kontaveit or Iga Swiatek in the last eight. She will be the heavy favourite to win whichever player makes it through.

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