Anna Kalinskaya ousts Sloane Stephens in Australian Open

League: Tennis

Posted on: 20 Jan, 2024 at 04:16 AM

Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Russia's Anna Kalinskaya rallied after dropping a long first set, defeating American Sloane Stephens 6-7 (8), 6-1, 6-4 during third-round play at the Australian Open on Saturday in Melbourne.

Stephens had two break points in an opportunity to go up 5-3 in the third, but Kalinskaya fought back and held serve to tie the set at 4.

Kalinskaya then broke Stephens' serve, capping the game with a clean backhand winner.

Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, saved two match points at 4-5 and had two break points to pull level before Kalinskaya ripped a backhand winner to close out the match.

Stephens had 33 unforced errors to only 15 for Kalinskaya as the big-hitting match saw 46 winners from the Russian and 44 from the American.

"I'm very happy that I'm in the fourth round," Kalinskaya said, adding that her offseason preparation allowed her the confidence to compete in the year's first major.

"We practiced more details in the game. I think being at this level it's very important to stay focused in the important points. So we've been focusing on the details."

Down 6-3 in the first-set tiebreak, Stephens saved three set points -- two of them on Kalinskaya's serve -- and prevailed 10-8 as Kalinskaya hit a backhand into the net.

In the initial set, Stephens had 17 unforced errors to Kalinskaya's 10. Stephens won 77 percent of her first-serve points in that set.

Kalinskaya moves on to face the winner of the match later Saturday between unseeded Russian Anna Blinkova and No. 26 Jasmine Paolini of Italy.

In other action, Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska found her serve in a dominant third set and upset New York native Emma Navarro, the 27th seed, 6-2, 2-6, 6-1.

Yastremska said she battled neck pain but found a way to put it aside after the second set.

"To be honest, I told myself just don't be too focused on your neck in the third set because it really takes my attention away," Yastremska said after the match.

"I just told myself 'enjoy,' and people are supporting you, so take the energy and give back the energy to them. I don't know what to say. It's just amazing. Nice emotions."

With 36 winners to only five for Navarro, Yastremska's power game was on full display in another victory.

She began the tournament with an upset of the No. 7 seed, Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic.

Yastremska, 23, moves on to the fourth round -- her first appearance in the fourth round at a major since 2019 -- where she will take on either No. 11 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia or No. 18 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.

No. 12 seed Zheng Qinwen had to work overtime in a third-set tiebreaker to turn back Wang Yafan 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (8) in matchup of Chinese players.

Zheng, 21, next will meet unseeded Oceane Dodin of France, who defeated Clara Burel 6-2, 6-4 in an all-French showdown.

--Field Level Media