Sloane Stephens upset at U.S. Open before possible Serena Williams match

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NEW YORK — Sloane Stephens‘ U.S. Open title defense ended in the quarterfinals, one match shy of a possible Serena Williams showdown.

Latvian Anastasija Sevastova upset the American 6-2, 6-3 on another steamy day inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. Temperatures reached the low 90s. All but a few games were won by the player on the shady side of the net.

Stephens also dealt with a “bad” sinus infection since Monday.

“Nothing was wrong with me before the match,” Stephens said. “Obviously, the better player won. … It was hot for both of us. She handled it better.”

The 18th-ranked Sevastova, not No. 3 Stephens, will face the winner of Tuesday night’s match between Williams and former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova for a spot in the final.

Williams is now the only woman left in the draw with a Grand Slam singles title — 23 of them, one shy of Margaret Court‘s record.

Stephens ended an up-and-down year in Grand Slams that included a French Open final loss to Simona Halep and first-round defeats at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Stephens made a remarkable run to her first Grand Slam final at the 2017 U.S. Open. She had missed 10 months due to a foot injury, unable to walk for four months after January 2017 surgery, and was ranked No. 957 less than a month before the tournament.

Her run included a three-set quarterfinal win over Sevastova, followed by ousting Venus Williams and Madison Keys to become the first U.S. woman other than the Williams sisters to win a Grand Slam singles title in nearly 16 years.

Stephens followed that by losing eight straight matches between September and January.

“I s— the bed for, like, 10 tournaments in a row,” she said. “I could have s— the bed in the first round [here], and that would have been really bad. So the fact that I made it to the quarterfinals and played some really good matches and I just competed as hard as I could, I mean, a lot to be proud of.”

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