Defending champion Sloane is eliminated by Anastasija

Bobbie Reid
September 7, 2018

Sloane Stephens's US Open title defense ended with a 6-2, 6-3 quarter-final defeat to Anastasija Sevastova on Tuesday as the Latvian avenged a 2017 loss to the American at the same stage.

But Cilic suddenly rose to the occasion and deployed his ballistic forehand to get back on serve at 5-5 before securing the opener after an error-filled tiebreak by both players.

"It was a really tough day and the heat didn't make it anymore fun".

The career-best Grand Slam performance for Sevastova comes after she retired from the sport in 2013 because of recurring injuries only to return in 2015.

Stephens returned to NY with a spring in her step amid hopes of becoming the first woman to retain a Grand Slam title since Serena Williams triumphed at Wimbledon in 2015 and 2016.

There was some start and stop to the first set Sunday night with Stephens going up a break in the fourth game, giving it right back in the fifth, then getting it back in the eighth and holding for 6-3.

Asked what he thinks he needs to improve in his game moving forward, the three-time US Open champion said: "I think a little bit the speed of my cross-court".

"I just play them instinctively, and that's how they work, or don't work sometimes".

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Williams and Stephens first have to win quarterfinal matches Tuesday.

The 28-year-old Sevastova, who avenged last year's quarter-final loss to Stephens in NY to reach her first Grand Slam semi, converted five of her eight break points and saved seven of the nine against her. Stephens clawed back to 4-3 and had chances to level up but Sevastova's drop shots caught her off guard time and again and a particularly devilish one presented her with the chance to serve for the match. "I ran back and hit a forehand cross-court - and the crowd went insane", she said.

"Last year I was almost one point away from doing that too", said Nadal, referring to his close five-setter with Gilles Muller in the Wimbledon fourth round last season.

The 19th-seeded Latvian said the rigours of the tournament at flushing Meadows have not given her a moment to consider the long odds she overcame to regain her competitive form. The Spanish player marked her 30th birthday in style with a memorable 6-4, 6-3 win over the five-time Grand Slam champion whose last Grand Slam win was in Paris in 2014. "Maybe the top 100".

Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens can give the United States two U.S. Open semifinalists, a year after an all-American women's final four. "And when you're winning a tournament, you think that's normal". Past year he lost a very tough match against Del Potro here.

"I hope I will enjoy it, playing semi-finals".

"Mentally, physically, I just wasn't connecting", said Stephens after the match.

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