U.S. OPEN: Defending champ Stephens ousted by Sevastova

U.S. OPEN: Defending champ Stephens ousted by Sevastova

Six-time US Open victor Williams is seeded 17th as she battles for her first Grand Slam title since the birth of daughter Olympia during last year's tournament.

After taking a 4-1 lead in the second set, Sevastova admitted that memories of last year's quarter-final against Stephens flashed across her mind. But Stephens leaves Flushing neither crushed nor embarrassed.

"I didn't play my best", she said.

Nadal evened the match by breaking in the final game of the second set.

She won 59 points to just 28 for the unseeded Ukrainian, who knocked off No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki in the second round. "Right now you're so in the tournament and you don't feel it".

Sevastova looked rocky in the first set, but took advantage of uncharacteristically slow play from Stephens and won the first set 6-2.

"Considering past year after this tournament I s*** the bed for like 10 tournaments in a row, I definitely don't have any points to defend", she said. "When you're winning a tournament, you think that's normal".

More news: Progressive upstart Ayanna Pressley defeats incumbent in Massachusetts Democratic primary

"You were here past year, you did something so great - what's going to happen now?" It was hot for both of us.

Next match, Stephens can employ that strategy against No. 19 Anastasia Sevastova of Latvia.

"I could have [lost] in the first round, and that would have been really bad", she said, invoking some colorful imagery in the process.

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

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.

"I would never have forgiven myself if I had lost that match", said a tearful Osaka. Quarter-finals of a Grand Slam is always really tough.

The players put on fearless faces, but it certainly seemed that the conditions ruined a potentially grand occasion. She recovered from foot surgery that forced her to miss most of the season and from a ranking that had fallen to almost 1,000 to win her first Grand Slam all inside a year.

More news: Serena: Athletes should be completely grateful for Kaepernick and Reid

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. Nor did the crowd react, wondering, "What was that all about?"

Defending champion Rafael Nadal survived an epic US Open quarterfinal confrontation to defeat battling ninth seed Dominic Thiem 0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/5) and reach the semifinals for the seventh time.

Sevastova is one of the wiliest players on tour, mixing up slices, spins and angles and generally making life very uncomfortable for a player like Stephens who feeds off consistency of pace. Nadal versus Thiem was actually the first deciding set tiebreak among the men to be played here after 122 singles matches, and there have only been three in the women's best-of-three format.

"She hit a drop shot. I ran back and hit a forehand cross-court - and the crowd went insane", she said.

"I'm very sorry for Dominic", Nadal added.

Sevastova's game plan worked. But the beaten defending champ can hold her head high.

The temperature, more than 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius), made things uncomfortable across the 3½-hour match. "That will be, I think, a match where I want to repeat on Arthur Ashe where we played in 2016".

More news: Trump blames Sessions for indictments of GOP lawmakers

Related Articles