US Open 2018: Defending champion Sloane Stephens fights back to progress

  • Posted: Aug 29, 2018
2018 US Open
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 27 August-9 September Coverage: Live radio coverage on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; live text commentaries on the BBC Sport website

Defending champion Sloane Stephens fought back from a set down to beat world number 134 Anhelina Kalinina and progress to the US Open third round.

The American third seed, treated for blisters in the second set, won 4-6 7-5 6-2 in two hours and 46 minutes.

She faces Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka next, after the former world number one beat Daria Gavrilova 6-1 6-2.

Meanwhile, 16th seed Venus Williams, 38, beat Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-4 7-5 in an hour and 52 minutes.

It sets up a potential third-round meeting with sister Serena, who plays Carina Witthoft later on Wednesday.

Ukrainian seventh seed Elina Svitolina also progressed with a 6-2 6-3 win over Germany’s Tatjana Maria.

The 21-year-old will play the winner of the match between Qiang Wang and Irina-Camelia Begu in the third round.

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Having lost an enduring opener in an hour and two minutes, Stephens broke three times in the second set only to be pegged back to 5-5 by Kalinina after receiving treatment for blisters on her hand.

The 25-year-old eventually closed out the set and, despite going a break down in the first game of the decider, proved too strong for the 21-year-old Ukrainian, who was playing in the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Stephens, who said she had “two bites of sushi and a slushy” during the 10-minute heat break before the final set, bemoaned the conditions on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It was super hot,” she added. “I was sweating a lot and it was not ideal conditions, but I am happy to get through.

“I hope that I play a little bit better than today [in the next round], go out and compete hard.”

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