Stephens suffers early exit

Sloane Stephens became an overnight star after her stunning win over her childhood idol Serena Williams in the Australian Open quarter-final in January.

By Rituraj Borkakoty

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Published: Wed 20 Feb 2013, 12:44 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 8:51 AM

The 19-year-old’s name was on everyone’s lips and some even said that she had it in her to become the next big thing in American tennis.

They might be proved right in future, but Stephens is still very much a work in progress. After her semi-final appearance in Melbourne, Stephens has been battling to remain consistent. She lost her second round match in Doha last week. And she was knocked out of the Dubai Tennis Championships on the opening day.

Sloane Stephens in action against Sorana Cirstea in Dubai on Monday. — KT photo by Shihab

Romanian Sorana Cîrstea never allowed her to play her best tennis on a sunny Monday afternoon and the American eventually succumbed to a disappointing 5-7 6-3 6-2 defeat in the first round at the Dubai Tennis Stadium.

“Yeah, I mean, things happen. It was a rough day,” Stephens told reporters at the post-match Press conference.

“And I think she obviously played some good tennis. Every match isn’t going to go the way you want it, and obviously I got a little frustrated. Things happen, but, I mean, no need to dwell on it. There is always another tournament.”

Stephens, who reached a career-high ranking of 16 on Monday, admitted that international tennis is not a bed of roses. “I mean, it’s always tough. It’s very tough to keep a really high level, but I think you just keep working hard, and, you know, hanging in there and you’ll be okay.

“I mean, obviously it’s really tough week in and week out playing perfect. Like today I didn’t play my best tennis, but you just need to move on. There are so many more weeks left in the year and so many more opportunities.”

Stephens, however, refused to blame the abdominal injury for her two disappointing tournaments in Doha and Dubai. “Last week I served awful. I mean, I haven’t served at all because of my ab. But I wouldn’t pinpoint one thing and say, Oh, I lost because of this.”

The American is well aware of the rising expectations in her country ever since she achieved her most memorable win in Australia. “I’m in a completely new situation. I’m coming from not being seeded at tournaments to seeded and coming somewhere I have never been before.

“I mean, it’s definitely a change for me, and obviously I have a lot more media responsibilities and things like that and a lot of things. My life has changed drastically.”

“I’m going through a change, and sometimes it doesn’t click right away. But I’m working on it, and, I mean, I don’t really feel any pressure. Serena Williams is No. 1 in the world. I don’t feel any pressure!” She does feel happy for the 15-time Grand Slam winner though. “I mean, she’s like the oldest person ever to be No. 1. I guess that’s a great thing. I’m happy for her, and I hope she stays there.

“She’s obviously a great player. And I always saw her at No. 1. Just because you have a computer ranking of No. 1 doesn’t mean she wasn’t No. 1 when she won the Olympics, when she won Wimbledon and when she won the US Open.

“I mean, the computer ranking is a computer ranking, but I think we all know who the best player in the world was at the time.” The rising star did get some time to see a bit of Dubai — a city that makes everyone drool. “Well, yeah, I saw the Burj Khalifa and went to the mall and it was really cool.”

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