Saturday, 20 January, 2018

Stephens comeback continues into semis

American CoCo Vandeweghe celebrates beating top seed Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic in their US Open quarter-final GETTY IMAGES American CoCo Vandeweghe celebrates beating top seed Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic in their US Open quarter-final
Vera Richards | 07 September, 2017, 02:58

American Sloane Stephens reached the U.S. Open semifinals for the first time by outlasting Anastasija Sevastova in Tuesday's quarterfinal match at NY.

It was 16 years ago that the 37-year-old won the last of her two US Open titles and now the American is two victories away from securing what would be a remarkable success in NY.

The 24-year-old, ranked 83rd as she makes her way back from injury, won 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-4) in NY.

"I'm getting teary eyed", Stephens said in a post-match interview. "This is pretty wonderful". So it's great to see this resurgence, and I hope it can continue.

Stephens will now be tasked with taking on Anastasija Sevastova-who defeated Maria Sharapova in the fourth round-in the quarterfinals of the US Open.

And she took her first match point with a clean backhand victor down the line.

"I just told myself to keep fighting", Stephens said. "I just knew that if I just stuck with it and continued to play my game I was going to have an opportunity".

Stephens only returned to the tour at Wimbledon after almost a year out with a foot injury.

She said her foot injury flared up after the 2016 Olympics, and she had foot surgery in January. "There were just so many things I was anxious about but once I just realized I have it good, I play tennis and have fun every day it just relieved a lot of stress". I'm honored to be able to play at the same time as her.

It has taken her only a handful of tournaments to get into her stride but Stephens will face a much more fearsome test in the last four at Flushing Meadows - two-time US Open champion Venus Williams.

But the American quickly settled her nerves, breaking right back and then taking Sevastova's serve again at 3-1 as her opponent suddenly began to show signs of distress.

It looked like Sevastova was heading for victory at 3-1 in the final set but Stephens recovered to force a tie-break. When I started my comeback at Wimbledon I could have never even have dreamed of something like this happening, making the semi-finals of my home Slam, my favourite tournament. "When I wasn't playing, like, of course I loved my time off; but when I got back to playing tennis, it was, like, this is where I want to be".

However, the Latvian resumed in more measured fashion, cutting her errors from 18 in the opening set to six as she clinched the second.

Her ranking was No. 934 before this recent streak of success.

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