The US Open has been full of surprises this year, starting with No. 44 ranked Kaia Kanepi taking out No. 1 ranked Simona Halep (6-2, 6-4). But everyone was wondering how long defending U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens could last in this year’s tournament. On Tuesday, Stephens faced No. 19 ranked Latvian Anastasija Sevastova. Sevastova prevailed 6-2, 6-3 under extreme heat in Queens, New York.
The Plantation, Florida native did not play her best throughout the rest of the tournament. However, Stephens is not easily fazed by her competition and was ranked No. 83 last year before her win. She noted that she was dealing with a sinus infection since Monday. She of the match that she “mentally and physically wasn’t connecting… I didn’t play my best”. It’s frustrating to see players not compete at their highest ability when dealing with severe weather elements.
This is Sevastova’s first Grand Slam semifinals and she is the first Latvian woman to make it to the U.S. Open semifinals Her serve precision and talented mobility around the court allows her to take advantage of opponents’ weaknesses. Sevastova’s expert drop shot is what really elevated her play against Stephens on Tuesday.
Stevens posted this to Twitter the day before the match.
— Sloane Stephens (@SloaneStephens) September 3, 2018
The heat has been a huge factor in this year’s tournament, with temperatures reaching well over 90 degrees. No. 2 ranked Roger Federer complained about his difficulty breathing due to the intense conditions of the heavy air after his loss to John Millman. After Federer’s exit, people are wondering if this is it for his tennis career. Stephens definitely played sluggishly due to the conditions.
Sevastova will go on to play No. 17 ranked superstar Serena Williams in the semifinal round on Thursday at 7 p.m. EST. Williams beat Karolína Plíšková on Tuesday evening (6-4, 6-3). Now it’s up to Williams or No. 14 ranked Madison Keys, who was the runner-up in 2017, to win to have another American champion since Stephens.