New York City, USA: Defending champion and third seed, Sloane Stephens, returned to the U.S. Open quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fifteen seeded Elise Mertens of Belgium on Sunday.
Stephens mixed her consistent, defense-to-offense style with the occasionally spectacular shot.
Stephens, trying to become the first woman to win back-to-back titles at Flushing Meadows since Serena Williams won in 2012, 2013 and 2014, lined up a quarter-final rematch with Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova, who upset seventh-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-3, 1-6, 6-0.
Stephens beat Sevastova in three sets in the quarter-finals last year, trailing in the final set before winning it in a tiebreaker.
“In a tournament you have a couple of really tough matches you have to battle through – that was one I had to dig deep,” Stephens said.
“I’m sure she’ll give me a tough match on Tuesday. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Stephens, beaten by Mertens in Cincinnati in August, turned the tables with a solid performance, converting five of her nine break chances.That included a stinging forehand winner on her first match point.
“That was pretty good, huh?” she said, adding that it was “never easy” against Mertens. “I played a solid match from start to finish. I can’t ask for much more,” said Stephens, who could face a semi-final meeting with Serena Williams if she gets past Sevastova.
Serena Williams started fast and finished strong to reach the quarterfinals by beating Kaia Kanepi 6-0, 4-6, 6-3. Williams, seeded 17th, won the first set in just 18 minutes. She quickly seized control again after dropping the second, racing to a 3-0 lead in the final set. The six-time U.S. Open champion, who missed the tournament last year and gave birth to her daughter during it, advanced to face 2016 finalist and No. 8 seed Karolina Pliskova. Kanepi, the 44th-ranked Estonian who knocked out top-ranked Simona Halep, was trying to make her second straight U.S. Open quarterfinal.
Karolina Pliskova reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the third consecutive year, beating No. 18 seed Ashleigh Barty 6-4, 6-4. Pliskova was the runner-up at Flushing Meadows in 2016, when she beat Serena Williams in the semifinals. They could meet again this year in the quarters. Against Barty, the eighth-seeded Pliskova won all 10 of her service games, saving 8 of 8 break points.
John Isner used a booming serve to reach the quarterfinals by beating Milos Raonic 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Isner, seeded 11th, also defeated Raonic at Wimbledon on the way to a semfinals appearance, his best finish in a Grand Slam. Isner is known for his marathon matches and played another long one in Louis Armstrong Stadium. Isner had the crowd behind him on every point and the 6-foot-11 American pumped his fist on every winner. Isner improved to 5-1 lifetime against Raonic. Raonic needed treatment on his back after the fourth set. The 33-year-old Isner is the tournament leader in aces and was nailing them against Raonic with 140 mph serves.