Sloane Stephens wins at Australian Open

Serena Williams is out of the Australian Open after losing her quarterfinal match 3:6, 7:5, 6:4 to 19-year-old American Sloane Stephens.
Williams appeared to hurt her lower back while attempting to pull up short of the net during the eighth game of the second set. She called for a trainer after the ninth game with the score 5:4 and on serve.
Stephens won the second set when Williams, serving slower than usual, was broken. Williams also had her service broken in the final game of the match.
At 2:1 and on the way to a changeover in the third set, Williams smashed her racket angrily on the court then threw it toward her chair.
Stephens will play defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals.

Sloane Stephens wins at Australian Open
Sloane Stephens.

Sloane Stephens shakes hands with Serena Williams after defeating her. There are few moments when you can physically see the changing of the guard happening. One that comes to my golfing mind was Jack Nicklaus standing on the Swilcan Bridge, waving to the crowd during his last British Open as Tiger Woods was teeing off, prepared to win at St. Andrews.
And while this might be different as Nicklaus was past his prime, it had a little bit of the same feel. Sloane Stephens (a 19-year-old American who has the eyes to be a champion and the stamina to live up to it) was paired against Serena Williams, possibly the best American women’s tennis player to ever hit a yellow ball on a court that has seen five trophy ceremonies set for Serena.
The match ended with Stephens upsetting the elder Williams 3:6, 7:5, 6:4, but there was plenty of action in between those numbers.
Williams dominated, struggled, left the court and broke a racket from start to finish, but it was the teenager who kept her cool the entire match and was able to leave the winner on Wednesday at Rod Laver Arena.

There were so many reasons for Stephens to choke. The South Florida native who lives with her mom in Los Angeles, was playing the woman in the poster on her bedroom wall; she was trying for her first Grand Slam semifinal; and she was playing an injured opponent which brings its own kind of pressure.
But Stephens didn’t blink and didn’t falter after a momentary lapse when she dropped serve at 3:3 in the final set. Quickly re-asserting herself, she came back at Serena, using her exceptional foot speed to work her way out of defensive positions to end up on the offensive at the net.
“She impressed me from the first moment I saw her” – said the highly experienced women’s coach Sven Groeneveld, who has never worked with Stephens. “Very few women can volley like that and most who can only play doubles. She has tennis in her DNA.”
Williams injured her back when she raced forward to retrieve a Stephens drop shot toward the end of the second set. At the next changeover, Williams disappeared into the locker room for treatment and seemed to be moving relatively freely as the match continued.
Williams had a different explanation in the post-match news conference.
“It’s fine. You know, just nothing” – Williams said. “I think everyone at this stage in the locker room has something wrong with them … There’s no excuse there. I had a tough two weeks between the ankle, which is like this big (holding her hands far apart) every day, and my back which started hurting. A lot of stuff.”
Williams, who had her match streak of 20 consecutive wins snapped, recounted how the injury occurred.
“A few days ago, the back got really tight and then I went for this drop shot and it just locked up on me” – Williams said. “I couldn’t really rotate after that. It was a little painful. But it’s OK.
“It was what it was.”

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