Monday, August 30, 2021

Stephens edges Keys in rematch of 2017 U.S. Open final

Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., improved to 3-0 this year and 5-2
 overall against Madison Keys. 2018 photo by Mal Taam
   In a rematch of the 2017 U.S. Open final, Sloane Stephens edged close friend and fellow unseeded American Madison Keys 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7) today in the first round at Flushing Meadows.
   Stephens, a 28-year-old product of Fresno, Calif., now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., served for the match at 6-5 in the third set and needed three match points in the tiebreaker to prevail.
   Stephens improved to 3-0 this year and 5-2 overall against Keys, including a 6-3, 6-0 victory in the 2017 U.S. Open for her only Grand Slam title. Stephens also reached the French Open final in 2018.
   Keys fell to 0-4, including a loss in San Jose, since reaching the round of 16 at Wimbledon in July. She won the last Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2017.
   Stephens has plunged from a career-high No. 3 in July 2018 to No. 66. Keys, 26, of Orlando, Fla., has tumbled from a career-high No. 7 in 2016 to No. 42.
   Stephens is scheduled to face No. 21 seed Coco Gauff, 17, of Delray Beach, Fla., for the first time on Wednesday. Gauff held off Poland's Magda Linette, a San Jose quarterfinalist four weeks ago, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 after leading 4-0 in the third set.
   Earlier today, Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina, who won the 2015 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger, defeated lucky loser Mayar Sherif (Fresno State, 2015-16), an Egyptian making her U.S. Open main-draw debut, 4-6, 6-1, 6-1.
   In the men's draw, No. 3 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, 23, of Greece outlasted 34-year-old Andy Murray, rebounding from two operations on his right hip, 2-6 7-6 (7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in 4 hours, 49 minutes. Tsitsipas saved two set points in the second set.
   Tsitsipas has never advanced past the third round of the U.S. Open in three previous appearances. He reached his first major final in the French Open in June, falling to Novak Djokovic after leading two sets to none. 
   Murray won the first of his three Grand Slam singles titles in the 2012 U.S. Open. He earned the first of his 46 tour-level singles crowns in San Jose at 18 in 2006 and repeated the following year.
   No. 15 seed Grigor Dimitrov, a 2019 U.S. Open semifinalist from Bulgaria, eliminated wild card Sam Riffice, a 22-year-old Sacramento native who won the NCAA singles title in May as a Florida junior, 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-3.

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