Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Stephens loses to qualifier in U.S. Open

No. 11 seed Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, lost to Anna Kalinskaya,
a qualifier ranked 127th, 6-3, 6-4 tonight in the first round of the U.S. Open.
Stephens won the title two years ago. 2016 photo by Mal Taam 
   Even for erratic Sloane Stephens, this was a stunning loss.
   The 11th-seeded Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, fell to Anna Kalinskaya, a 20-year-old Russian qualifier ranked 127th, 6-3, 6-4 tonight in the first round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Stephens, who committed 33 unforced errors to Kalinskaya's 15, has dropped five of her last six matches. In addition, she lost in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament for the third time since winning the U.S. Open two years ago.
   Kalinskaya is scheduled to meet Kristie Ahn, a 27-year-old Stanford graduate, on Thursday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
   Ahn, who lives a 30-minute drive away in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., and practices at the site of the U.S. Open, beat 34-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova, the champion 15 years ago, 7-5, 6-2.
   Both Kalinskaya and the 141st-ranked Ahn, who's playing in the main draw of the U.S. Open for the first time in 11 years, earned their first Grand Slam victories.
   This year, Ahn also:
   –Saved two match points in a victory over top-seeded Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion, in the first round on clay in Bogota.
   –Played in the main draw at Wimbledon for the first time, losing in the first round as a qualifier.
   –Reached the semifinals of the $60,000 Berkeley Challenger.
   –And earned her first win over a top-20 player, No. 20 Elise Mertens, in San Jose to reach her second WTA quarterfinal.
   Ahn's friend and former Stanford teammate, lucky loser Nicole Gibbs, lost to fourth-seeded Simona Halep, the reigning Wimbledon champion, 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
   Gibbs was playing in her fourth tournament since undergoing surgery for a rare cancer in the roof of her mouth on May 17 in Los Angeles.
   Halep, a U.S. Open semifinalist in 2015 and quarterfinalist in 2016, ended a streak of two first-round losses in Flushing Meadows.
   Fifteenth-seeded Bianca Andreescu, 19, of Canada outplayed Katie Volynets, 17, of Walnut Creek in the San Francisco Bay Area 6-2, 6-4.
   Volynets received an automatic wild card for winning the USTA Girls 18 National Championships in San Diego and made her Grand Slam women's main-draw debut.
   An even younger teenager, 15-year-old phenom Coco Gauff of Delray Beach, Fla., defeated Anastasia Potopova, 18, of Russia, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4. Last month, Gauff became the youngest player to reach the round of 16 at Wimbledon since Jennifer Capriati in 1991.
   Four top-10 men's seeds, all in the bottom half of the draw, lost today. Exiting were No. 4 Dominic Thiem, No. 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 9 Karen Khachanov and No. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut.

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