US Open 2021: Sloane Stephens defeats Coco Gauff to reach third round

Sloane Stephens held her ground, dictating the proceedings to defeat the 21st seed, 6-4, 6-2, in one hour and eight minutes.

Stephens used her forehand to redirect the ball time and again. (Image Credit: Twitter/@usopen)

Sloane Stephens and Coco Gauff share a warm relationship with one of the latter’s earliest memories of Stephens involving her attending her 10th birthday party at a Florida waterpark. Her friends were in all-out awe of the celebrity guest. However, Stephens was in no mood to dish out any favours on Day 3 in Flushing Meadows. The veteran demonstrated a punishing display of tennis, one characterized by clean ball-striking and all-court speed. Stephens dictated the proceedings to defeat the 21st seed, 6-4, 6-2, in one hour and eight minutes.

The 28-year-old came in as the underdog, only 16-14 on the year and having fallen to No. 66 in the rankings. COVID-19 had impacted her badly in 2021, having lost an aunt; then, within a matter of weeks, both her grandmother and grandfather. The tennis star later tested positive for COVID-19 herself. Gauff, meanwhile, had advanced to her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal at Roland Garros. She swept the singles and doubles at Parma; and arrived in Flushing Meadows at a career-high No. 23.

Stephens however took full advantage of Gauff, who serving at 4-all, 15-40 in the opener, offered up her first double fault of the match. It marked one of four on the night, proving costly as the 28-year-old would subsequently consolidate to close out the set in just 34 minutes.

“think everyone knows I love Coco”

“I love Coco. I think everyone knows I love Coco. At the end of the match, I said, ‘I love you.’ She’s such a great player. I feel so lucky to have seen her grow up and play from when she was eight years old. I‘ve seen her game really transition and change. I’m really proud of the player she is and the girl she is and the woman she is becoming. I know there’s going to be great things ahead for her,” said Stephens, who surrendered just 10 points on her service game.

“The forehand was key today. I wanted to come out here and really execute and play my game. I was able to do that well, so I’m really pleased with how I played,” she added.

Aryna Sabalenka through despite thinking she had broken hand

No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka hopes that the only stumble on her way to a maiden Grand Slam singles title, is the scary fall she took during her second-round victory.

Sabalenka powered her way to a 6-3, 6-1 win over Tamara Zidansek, also pushing through despite a hand injury she suffered in the fifth game of the first set. Up 3-1 and returning serve at 30-30, Sabalenka slipped and fell onto the court while hitting a service return, with her right hand—while still grabbing hold of the racquet—breaking her fall. She immediately flexed her fingers and rotated her wrist after lying on the court for about 10 seconds, and continued to put an ice pack on the top of her fingers.

“I was really scared that I broke [my finger] because my feeling was like it was really painful. I was really scared of my fingers, and I was thinking, ‘This is such a lucky day.’ Was really worrying about my arm and my hand, and I’m really happy that I could finish this match. Have an extra day to see what’s going on, and maybe to do the best recovery I can do,” said Sabalenka.




WRITTEN BY
Sportslumo Desk

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