Stephens hoping to spring another surprise
SLOANE STEPHENS admits she is feeling the pressure as she prepares to defend her US Open title.
The third seed will step out on the new Louis Armstrong Stadium against Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina today looking to continue the New York fairy tale that swept her to an improbable title success 12 months ago.
Only just back from a serious foot injury, Stephens arrived at Flushing Meadows ranked 83 and left as America’s newest grand slam champion.
Stephens said: “I’ve been back (to Flushing Meadows) about four or five times now. For me, being here is super cool, obviously. But as defending champion (there is) a lot of stress, a lot of pressure.
“I’m just going to go out and handle it as best I can, just try to play my best. It’s a completely new tournament this year.”
Backing up such unexpected success is notoriously difficult, and Stephens did not win another match until the end of February, suffering eight successive losses, but since then she has shown her Flushing Meadows triumph was no fluke.
The 25-year-old won the biggest WTA Tour title of her career in Miami in March before reaching a second slam final at the French Open, this time losing to Simona Halep.
Stephens is one of 13 current or former slam champions in the women’s draw and six others also begin their campaigns on today.
Venus Williams takes on Svetlana Kuznetsova before Serena Williams makes her US Open comeback against Magda Linette to open the night session.