Stephens breaks Aussie Open jinx to ad­vance

The Borneo Post - - SPORT -

FOR­MER US Open cham­pion Sloane Stephens needed to tell her­self to “get it to­gether” Mon­day be­fore end­ing her Aus­tralian Open hoodoo and ad­vanc­ing to the sec­ond round.

The fifth seed has en­dured a hor­ror run at Mel­bourne Park since reach­ing the semi- fi­nal in 2013.

The 25-year- old ex­ited in the first round in 2015, 2016 and 2018, and also missed 2017 with a foot in­jury.

There were also ques­tions about the 2017 US Open win­ner’s form com­ing into the tour­na­ment af­ter poor per­for­mances this month at warm-ups in Bris­bane and Syd­ney. But she looked com­fort­able in see­ing off 93rd ranked fel­low Amer­i­can Tay­lor Townsend 6- 4, 6-2, grow­ing in con­fi­dence as the match wore on.

She said she hoped to em­u­late her ap­pear­ance in the last four six years ago.

“It’s been a tough cou­ple of years here, but I do love this tour­na­ment. It’s al­ways tough the first Slam of the year kind of get­ting go­ing,” she said.

“I had a good re­sult here once be­fore, so I think I’m go­ing to try to do it again.”

Stephens ini­tially stum­bled to go down a ser­vice break and ad­mit­ted her past fail­ures sprang to mind.

“I was like ‘here we go again, get it to­gether’,” she said.

The world numbe r f ive im­me­di­ately broke back to take the first set af­ter 32 min­utes.

She was in con­trol of the sec­ond set from the off­set, serv­ing strongly and hit­ting ac­cu­rate re­turns to run Townsend around in the heat.

The only wob­ble came when she strug­gled to close out the match, blow­ing four match points on Townsend’s serve be­fore go­ing on to claim vic­tory off her own rac­quet.

Stephens is seek­ing greater con­sis­tency at Grand Slams af­ter strong per­for­mances last year to reach the fi­nal at Roland Gar­ros and quar­ters at Flush­ing Mead­ows were off­set by first- round ex­its in Aus­tralia and Wim­ble­don.

— AFP photo

Stephens re­acts af­ter a point against Townsend dur­ing their women’s sin­gles match on day one of the Aus­tralian Open.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.