Third time’s the charm for Anastasija Sevastova.
Playing in her third consecutive U.S. Open quarterfinal, the 29th seeded Latvian finally broke through to claim her spot in the semifinals, doing so in stunning fashion as she upset third-seed and defending champion Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-3 inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday.
Sevastova saved seven break points in the 41-minute first set, and converted on the two break points she set up on Stephens’ serve to take the opener.
“When you don’t play the big points well, the match can get away from you. I think that’s what happened today,” said Stephens. “I didn’t convert. I didn’t play the big points well, and you don’t win matches when you don’t take your opportunities.”
Sevastova went up a break in the second set and was rolling at 4-1, only to see Stephens get the break back and have an opportunity to level things while serving at 3-4. But Sevastova broke right back, saving multiple game points and putting the match out of reach to go ahead 5-3.
Quickly jumping out 40-0 in her service game, Sevastova had a slight lapse when Stephens won two consecutive points, but a backhand into the net from the American on the third match point brought an end to the match, and Stephens’ title defense.
“It’s always tough to play her, I think, because her ball is so heavy. She has big spin on the forehand and also her backhand. It’s like it comes at you so fast,” said Sevastova. “It’s tough to make points against her, but I had to be aggressive. I had to try to come to the net, play some dropshots, move her, not let her play the game with her forehand, and make the winners.”
Into the final four at a major for the first time, Sevastova awaits the winner of the quarterfinal match between eighth-seed Karolina Pliskova and 17th seed Serena Williams.
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at email@example.com.