Defending Champion Crashes Out Of US Open

Karolina Pliskova

Sloane Stephens was "proud" of her attempts to defend her US Open title, despite suffering a quarter-final defeat at the hands of Anastasija Sevastova.

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.

Six-time champion Serena Williams shook off a sluggish start to power past eighth-seeded Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-3 into the semi-finals.

"I think it was very physical today", Sevastova, who lost to Stephens during a US Open tune-up in Montreal last month, said during her on-court interview.

"I weigh 238 pounds, so I have always said it's pretty hard to play in hot conditions, for me especially, because I weigh a lot and I sweat a lot. The first set was so important", said the 19th-seeded Sevastova. "I think she lost also her nerves a little bit, it's normal".

Three-quarters of Arthur Ashe Stadium was in the sun on another day of more than 90-degree temperatures in NY, and Stephens seemed to lack some of her usual sideline-to-sideline court coverage in the heat.

And while conceding that seeing the defence of her title come to an end was a huge disappointment, Stephens was relieved to make it as far as she did in the tournament.

Defending champion Sloane Stephens became the latest big name to fall at the US Open on Tuesday.

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The third seed struggled throughout on what is expected to be the hottest day of the US Open, failing to take her chances as Sevastova coped better with the challenging conditions.

It'll be a rematch of last year's U.S. Open quarterfinal, won by Stephens in a third-set tiebreaker. "But the personal satisfaction when you give everything and you play with the right attitude is the same".

The 28-year-old avenged last year's quarter-final loss to Stephens in NY, converting five of her eight break point chances. I know how he plays, he knows how I am playing.

The No. 21 seed continued his strong season after returning from a wrist injury that forced him to miss the U.S. Open past year and will play either No. 6 seed Novak Djokovic or unseeded John Millman on Friday.

Sevastova's creative play makes for a great matchup with Stephens, as their intense, three-set battle here a year ago demonstrated.

Williams did drop her serve once in the second, coughing up one of her five double faults on break point as Pliskova narrowed the gap to 4-1.

"When you don't play big points well, the match can get away from you", Stephens said.

He added "I'm so happy to reach another semi-final in my favourite tournament". "I'm going to learn as I go". But now I wish him the title the most, that's for sure. Just keep building. There's four more tournaments left.

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