UPSETTER: Stephens knocked out the favourite
ANY HOPES of Serena Williams claiming her 16th Grand Slam title were dashed when the American lost in the Australian Open quarter-finals to compatriot Sloane Stephens, 3-6 7-5 6-4.
The result was a massive shock as Williams was nailed on favourite to win the tournament down under. The defeat marked the end of what Williams described as the “worst two weeks” – she had to endure ankle and back problems, which affected her performance on the court.
“I'm almost relieved that it's over because there's only so much I felt I could do”, Williams said.
“But, it's been a little difficult. I've been thrown a lot of balls these two weeks.
“I think everyone at this stage in the locker room has something wrong with them, so it's fine. There's no excuse there,” she added, playing down the effects of her injuries.
In contrast, it was the result of the 19-year-old Stephens’ fledging career in her first ever Grand Slam quarter-final.
“I think I was convinced that I was able to do it when I lost serve in the first game in the second set and I went down 2 0,” Stephens said.
“I was like, this is not the way you want it to happen. But you just fight and get every ball back, run every ball down, and just get a lot of balls in play.
“From then on I got aggressive, started coming to the net more, and got a lot more comfortable. I just played my game from there”, she added.
The teenager, tipped by some to become a world number one, is now about to break into the top-20 rankings. But in order for Stephens to make the final, she will have to overcome defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals on Thursday (January 24).