Published: Fri, September 07, 2018
Sport | By Floyd Cook

Sloane Stephens cruises past Elise Mertens and into US Open quarters

Sloane Stephens cruises past Elise Mertens and into US Open quarters

Stephens was ranked 83rd in the world when she upset Sevastova in three sets in the quarter-finals past year, trailing by a break in the third set before winning it in a tiebreaker. But Stephens leaves Flushing neither crushed nor embarrassed.

This is a rematch of the French Open final, won by Nadal in June.

In the match before Nishikori's, Naomi Osaka moved into her first Grand Slam semifinal by routing Lesia Tsurenko 6-1, 6-1. "Right now you're so in the tournament and you don't feel it". After suffering a first set "bagel", Nadal had to battle back from breaks in the third and fourth sets before seeing off the first top 20 player he had faced at the US Open since 2013.

Yet both players denied that the conditions played an outsized role in the outcome.

Pliskova is the last woman to beat Williams at the U.S. Open, eliminating her in the semifinals two years ago.

"You were here previous year, you did something so great - what's going to happen now?" We both were exhausted in the end, we both fought until the end and I think I survived with my serve. "She handled it better". Sevastova served up only two aces, but she took advantage of a terrible day for Stephens' second serve.

"I did not have many goals", Sevastova said of her return.

"I lost my nerves a little bit", Sevastova admitted.

'Well, considering previous year after this tournament I sh*t the bed for like 10 tournaments in a row, I definitely don't have any points to defend.' she added. On this afternoon, del Potro played particularly clean tennis, making only 14 unforced errors, less than a third as many as Isner's 52.

"I would never have forgiven myself if I had lost that match", said a tearful Osaka.

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He served better, delivered more aces (18-3), committed few double faults (4-4), hit more outright winners (74-55), piled more total match points (171-165) and won more games (28-26). It just was a really tough day.

The players put on fearless faces, but it certainly seemed that the conditions ruined a potentially grand occasion.

As the reigning champion, the spotlight was brighter on Stephens at this tournament - her home Slam. Nor did the crowd react, wondering, "What was that all about?"

Perhaps, the defeat to Stephens at the US Open previous year still haunted her. Sevastova had gone down to the American 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 in the last eight in 2017.

Meanwhile, two-time US Open champion Djokovic will be playing in his 11th consecutive semi-final in NY, just two months after defying the odds to lift a 13th major at Wimbledon.

"When you don't play big points well, the match can get away from you", she said. Rather than letting Stephens get into her rallying, counter-punching rhythm, she constantly changed the pace and spin on the ball.

Stephens said that despite the manner of her defeat on Tuesday she was content with what she had achieved at this tournament. "I had to be aggressive", Sevastova said. Sevastova sealed the upset a game later.

Serena Williams is through to the Women's semi finals following a straight set win over eight seed Karolina Pliskova. But the beaten defending champ can hold her head high.

Sloane Stephens of the United States (L) shakes hands with Elise Mertens of Belgium (R) after their match in the fourth round on day seven of the US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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