Former Semifinalist Stephens Out Of Australian Open After Thrilling Battle

Former Semifinalist Stephens Out Of Australian Open After Thrilling Battle

by Jordan Reynolds

Sloane Stephens exited the Australian Open in the third round to Anna Kalinskaya, who reached a Grand Slam fourth round for the first time.

Stephens was a semifinalist in Melbourne back in 2013, a run that included a victory against Serena Williams, who has inspired Coco Gauff. Surprisingly, she had not won a match at the Australian Open since 2019 before this year,

The 2017 US Open champion changed that with her two victories before this clash. In the second round, she overcame Daria Kasatkina from a set down, which was a highly impressive win against such a tough opponent.

Kalinskaya was making her first appearance in the third round of a Grand Slam. She had previously reached the second round of the US Open on four occasions, but went one better in Melbourne with her aggressive style of tennis.

The opening set was extremely dramatic. Neither player was able to break serve, although each woman did have one game in the set where they had to hold their nerve and save break points.

The difference in styles on serve was interesting throughout the set. Kalinskaya was attempting to land a powerful first serve to get a free point or set up a big groundstroke, while Stephens took pace off her serve to stop Kalinskaya being able to attack her second serve.

The tiebreak saw an incredible comeback from Stephens. She was 6-3 down, but changed the momentum with an excellent forehand pass. From there, the American clawed her way back, and after many excellent shots, Stephens took the tiebreak 10-8.

Kalinskaya faced a break point in the opening game of the next set, but saved it with an amazing half volley at the net. The momentum of the set then suddenly changed after that moment of brilliance.

The Russian began to hit her groundstrokes with even more pace, and her experienced opponent could not cope. She rattled off five games in a row, and ended up taking the set 6-1.

Stephens improved at the beginning of the decider. She broke to make it 3-1, but then some loose shots allowed Kalinskaya to break straight back at 3-2.

The former French Open runner-up had another chance to break to make it 5-3, but unexpectedly hit a second serve out, and Kalinskaya then held her nerve to hold and make it 4-4.

The following game was the most pivotal of the match. Stephens managed to save four break points, but Kalinskaya then pounced on two second serves from her opponent to break at the fifth opportunity.

Kalinskaya had to save two more break points in this dramatic contest, but on her third set point, she sealed a 6-7 6-1 6-4 victory in two hours and 45 minutes.


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