Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Ex-champ Stephens stymies Gauff, 17, in U.S. Open

Sloane Stephens could meet Angelique Kerber in a third-round matchup
of former U.S. Open champions. 2019 photo by Mal Taam
   Sloane Stephens, a 28-year-old product of Fresno, Calif., now based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., defeated No. 21 seed Coco Gauff, 17, of Delray Beach, Fla., 6-4, 6-2 tonight in the second round of the U.S. Open in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
   Stephens won the 2017 U.S. Open and advanced to the French Open final in 2018. She has plunged from a career-high No. 3 in July 2018 to No. 66, partly because she contracted COVID early this year and lost her grandparents to the virus.
   Gauff became an international sensation by reaching the round of 16 at Wimbledon two years ago at 15. She reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in the French Open in June and the fourth round at Wimbledon again in July, helping her climb to a career-high No. 23.
   Stephens is scheduled to face either No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber, the champion of the 2016 U.S. Open and 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, or Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina, who won the 2015 Sacramento (Calif.) Challenger, on Friday. 
  Stephens is 5-1 against Kerber, a 33-year-old left-hander, with a five-match winning streak and 1-0 against Kalinina, 24. Stephens and Kerber would meet for the first time in almost three years and the first time ever in a Grand Slam tournament. Stephens topped Kalinina 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the second round of the 2018 U.S. Open.
   In the first round of doubles today, No. 4 seeds Rajeev Ram, a volunteer assistant coach at the University of California, Berkeley from Carmel, Ind., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain beat alternates Kwon Soonwoo of South Korea and Divij Sharan of India 6-3, 6-4. Ram and Salisbury reached last year's semifinals. 
   In rain-suspended matches:
   —Robin Haase of the Netherlands and Mackenzie McDonald, a 26-year-old product of Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area now living in Orlando, Fla., lead Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Andres Molteni of Argentina 7-5.
   —Steve Johnson of Redondo Beach in the Los Angeles region and Sam Querrey, a 33-year-old San Francisco native, lead Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands 2-1.

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