The first semi-final at the 2018 US Open is set with the lower ranked players in both quarter-finals prevailing in straights. One of those was not unexpected though! I’m hitting the wall now and generally seem to lose a bit of interest in Slams and tournaments by the end when there’s not as much going on. Read on for eight stories in Tuesday’s Set Points from the US Open.
Sevastova’s first Slam SF
After twice making the quarter-finals of the US Open, Anastasija Sevastova has gone one step further this year by reaching her first Slam semi-final after knocking out the defending champion, Sloane Stephens, 6-2 6-3.
The story of the first set was break point conversions. Not the first time in a match this week! Stephens actually started quite well but couldn’t take her opportunities. Stephens missed four break points at 1-1 and then another three break points at 1-3. Sevastova had two break points and converted them both. Sevastova looked to be cruising into the semis, leading 6-2 4-1. There was a little wobble as Sevastova played a shocking service game at 4-2. Stephens had four game points to level up at 4-4. Sevastova stayed in contention and broke with another drop shot hot shot. The damage was done and Sevastova served out the match to 30.
All in all, it was a very solid title defence from Stephens. While it was a poor display, I liked that she kept plugging away in that second set. I do think she’s come a long way from even winning the US Open last year and she has consistently delivered at many of the big tournaments in the last six months. The issue for Stephens, in my opinion, was her footwork. From midway in the first set, Stephens just couldn’t seem to get her feet going and the movement was off. She seemed to be affected by the heat and did shout out midway through the second set, what sounded like, “f***king tight as f***, hot as f**k” 😂.
There’s so much to like about Sevastova’s game. Her drop shots are absolutely sensational and it seems that they are very hard to read. Stephens managed to chase down two of them, but the rest were just too good. Sevastova saved her best till last on break point at 4-3 in the second set with a slice of magic off the backhand side. Absolutely glorious. Sevastova was generally a demon at the net, winning 11 of 12 net points. Another strength of Sevastova’s is her ability to hit from corner-to-corner and move the ball around the court so effortlessly. This also probably didn’t help Stephens’s general sluggishness.
Sevastova has now leveled up her head-to-head with Stephens at 2-2 and will get a shot at reaching her first Slam semi-final on Thursday.
Amazon Prime commentary for Stephens vs. Sevastova
Daniela Hantuchova and Mark Petchey were on the commentary for the first quarter-final of the day on Amazon Prime. Hantuchova doesn’t hold back at all! I really enjoyed her nuggets of information. She was talking about Patty being her bad match-up on Monday! During this particular match she said she thought that Sevastova can be quite disrespectful on the court to umpires and her coaching team. Admittedly, I did find some of her commentary a tad baffling as Hantuchova proceeded to continually praise Stephens, even after losing points. I kind of got the feeling that Hantuchova is not a fan of Sevastova? Sevastova can be quite frustrating to watch at times. She was up a break in the first set but was still giving her team a monologue in the stands. Mentally she often looks frazzled but can still play well through these outbursts.
Sevastova in press
Sevastova said in her press conference that she will have to get some drop shots ready for her semi-final opponent!
Stephens in press
Stephens kept reiterating that it was just not her day and clearly the heat was an issue for her. Still, she gave plenty of credit to her opponent. Also, never head the phrase, “s**t the bed” before 😂 .
While I was sleeping…
Serena Williams rallied from 2-4 down in the first set and won eight straight games before eventually seeing off Karolina Pliskova, 6-4 6-3. This was Williams’s first top ten win since returning to the tour following the first birth of her first child. She has made at least the semi-finals in her last nine (!) appearances at the US Open.
Barty and Vandeweghe reach doubles SFs
Osaka-Tsurenko will be in the day session with Keys-Suárez Navarro is up at night.