Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Fresno product Stephens reaches U.S. Open semis

   There's more to U.S. women's tennis than the Williams sisters.
   Sloane Stephens reached her first Grand Slam semifinal in four years today, edging 16th-seeded Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4) in the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Stephens, a 24-year-old Fresno product, rallied twice from a break down in the final set to become the first American woman other than the Williams sisters in the U.S. Open semis since Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport in 2004.
   Both Stephens and Sevastova have rebounded after extended injury layoffs.
   Stephens, 24, had foot surgery in January and returned to competition in July after missing 11 months.
   "I'm getting teary-eyed," Stephens said afterward in an on-court interview. "This is incredible. When I started my comeback before Wimbledon, I could have never even dreamed of having these results in my home Slam, at my favorite tournament. It's indescribable."
   Sevastova, 27, retired in 2013 for two years because of back problems. She was playing in her second consecutive U.S. Open quarterfinal after sitting out of every Grand Slam tournament for four years (2012-15).
   Stephens, who stunned Serena Williams to reach the 2013 Australian Open semifinals, will face No. 9 seed Venus Williams, a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2) winner over No. 13 Petra Kvitova.
   Stephens defeated Venus 7-6 (5), 6-1 in the first round of the 2015 French Open in their only meeting to date.
   It's unlikely, but the United States could monopolize the women's semifinals. In the top half of the draw on Wednesday, No. 20 seed CoCo Vandeweghe will take on No. 1 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, and No. 15 Madison Keys will meet qualifier Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.
   Meanwhile, the last U.S. hope in men's singles lost. No. 28 seed Kevin Anderson subdued No. 17 Sam Querrey, a 29-year-old San Francisco native, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-3, 7-6 (7) in a 3-hour, 26-minute battle that ended at 1:50 a.m. EDT.
   It was the tallest quarterfinal matchup in a Grand Slam tournament in the Open Era, which began in 1968. Anderson is 6-foot-8 (2.03 meters), and Querrey is 6-foot-6 (1.98 meters).
   Anderson will play No. 12 seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain on Friday in the first major semifinal for both. Carreno Busta, who had surgery for a herniated disc in 2012, dismissed No. 29 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-4, 6-4, 6-2. Anderson, 31, is 2-0 against Carreno Busta, 26.
   Fifth-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) advanced to the men's doubles semifinals with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin. The 39-year-old Bryans will face 11th-seeded Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez (no relation) of Spain.
   In junior singles, two players from Northern California moved into the third round.
   Sam Riffice, who was born in Sacramento and lived in nearby Roseville until age 15, dominated Tomas Machac of the Czech Republic 6-3, 6-0.
   The 18-year-old Riffice, now based at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., has not lost more than three games in a set in the tournament. He will meet Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland for a quarterfinal berth.
   Ruusuvuori upset No. 13 seed Sebastian Korda of Bradenton, Fla., 6-3, 6-3. Korda is the son of Czechs Petr Korda, the 1998 Australian Open champion, and Regina Rajchrtova, who lost in the first round of the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.
   Katie Volynets of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area defeated Natasha Subhash of Fairfax, Va., in the Washington, D.C., area 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1.
   Volynets, a 15-year-old Walnut Creek native whose parents are from Ukraine, will play Anastasia Kharitonova of Russia. Kharitonova ousted top seed and reigning French Open junior champion Whitney Osuigwe of Bradenton 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

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