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US Open 2018: Serena reaches semis, defender Stephens knocked out

07 September 2018

It just was a really tough day.

With the heat, humidity and blazing sun combining to make conditions hazardous enough that organizers suspended junior matches, the scraps of shade on the massive Ashe court were invaluable.

As the reigning champion, the spotlight was brighter on Stephens at this tournament - her home Slam. He walked quietly to the center of the court, then stepped over the net and embraced 25-year-old Dominic Thiem. Isner was trying to become the first American male semifinalist at the US Open since Andy Roddick in 2006.

She now awaits the victor of Williams and Karolina Pliskova.

She is safely through to the last eight at Flushing Meadows for a 15th time. Stephens gave credit to her opponent, Sevastova saying "It's hard match and I though she played solid today and obviously the better player won".

Sevastova praised Stephens for her serve and movement, the weight of her shots and the quality of her spin.

At the finish line, however, only two points separated the players in the fifth set tie break result seven points to five.

Another break point came and went for the Argentine in the second set before he deservedly broke through for 3-1, backed up by a love service hold. Also good serve and moving well.

The temperature, more than 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius), made things uncomfortable across the 3½-hour match. There were only a few more games that Sevastova had to do in sealing the round and Stephens' unforced errors were part of the problem which kept appearing like an unwanted guest at a celebration.

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Indeed Stephens fought back to narrow the gap to 4-3, but Sevastova grabbed another break with a well-timed drop shot for a 5-3 lead and sealed the victory on her third match point when a tired Sephens put a backhand into the net. "But I don't play drop shots when I see the player struggling or bending over". Stephens said. "I think that's what happened today".

It was Stephens' less-heralded Latvian opponent who has been taking her opportunities in NY.

This is the season of high level meetings in tennis, with Grand Slam chiefs coming together at the US Open this week. But having returned to tennis in 2015, Sevastova has risen steadily through the ranks and is now ranked No 18 in the world.

Del Potro now has two days off before the semi-finals but will be keeping to himself, saying: "If I met them it could be unsafe for me".

"I could have s**t the bed (lost) in the first round, and that would have been really bad", she said. "Maybe the top 100".

"When you're playing a whole new draw, different seedings, different ranking, there's so much that goes into it". I don't know. It's going to be a close match, I think. It's back to the drawing board for the number 3 player and onto the next tournament be it in Chicago, Quebec City, onto the Asian Swing, the WTA Finals or others.

"You think, 'Oh, but in the end it's incredible, yeah?' You can't believe, yeah. After I stop at some point I will look at it and I will be proud of myself for sure".

As endearing as Sevastova's comeback story is, she faces probably the toughest prospect in women's tennis: Serena Williams.

US Open 2018: Serena reaches semis, defender Stephens knocked out