Sloane Stephens' defence of US Open title ends with defeat by Anastasija Sevastova
Sevastova wins 6-2 6-3 on Arthur Ashe Stadium
By Raz Mirza
Last Updated: 04/09/18 7:21pm
Sloane Stephens' US Open title defence ended in a stunning straight-sets defeat by Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova on Tuesday.
Stephens, who was aiming to become the first woman to successfully defend a Grand Slam title since Serena Williams triumphed at Wimbledon in 2015 and 2016, started the day's action on Arthur Ashe Stadium against 19th-seeded Sevastova.
The 25-year-old American, who struggled after her triumph last year, came in as the heavy favourite to defeat her opponent in a rematch of her three-set victory in the same round at Flushing Meadows last year.
But Sevastova defied the odds to become the first Latvian woman to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time with an impressive 6-2 6-3 victory.
She will face either 23-time major champion Serena Williams or eighth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova for a place in the final.
In stiflingly hot conditions, Sevastova broke Stephens twice in the opening set before breaking again to go up 2-0 in the second set before Stephens, who was visibly wilting on the sun-baked court, broke back to tie things up 2-2.
But Sevastova broke again, then stumbled over the line after Stephens netted her return on her third match point.
"I think it was very physical today. It's tough to play, so hot in here. The first set was so important," said Sevastova. "When the shade was there it was so hot here and amazing there. The last games, it was good that I played in the shade. The sun was not comfortable and it was hot."
Stephens joined an exodus of women's seeds that saw top-ranked Simona Halep and No 2 Caroline Wozniacki exit in the first two rounds.
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