American teen tennis sensation Sloane Stephens battled into her first Grand Slam quarterfinal on Monday, beating Serbia’s Bojana Jovanovski in three tough sets at the Australian Open.
The powerful Stephens, 19, was made to work hard by Jovanovski before prevailing 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 to set up a last-eight clash against compatriot Serena Williams, who defeated Maria Kirilenko in straight sets of 6-2,6-0 in another match on Monday.
Stephens, whose poise and power has seen her compared to a young Williams, is one of the brightest young talents in the women’s game and she displayed all her attributes on Hisense Arena.
“I don’t know what happened after the first set but she played great tennis,” said Stephens, adding that she is ready to play Serena next.
“I haven’t beaten Serena and I hope I’ll give you all a good show,” she said. In their first-ever meeting earlier this month in Brisbane, Serena beat Stephens in straight sets of 6-4, 6-3.
“Obviously every match is a learning experience,’’ Stephens said. “But, I mean, you’ve just got to go and treat it like another match. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, my God, I played Serena, I’m going to be so great at all these other things because she just taught me so much.’ It was just another match, regular match. Little things that you just take and move on.’’
Serena also said her quarter final clash with Stephens will be an exciting one. “It will be a match, I have nothing to lose against her”, Serena said.
Stephens, born on 20 March, 1993, is an emerging American professional tennis champion. Her current rank is world number 25, and as at 13 January, 2013; that is her career high in singles.
She is currently the youngest woman in the WTA top 40. Stephens had a breakthrough year in 2008, when she finished the US Open Junior doubles as runner-up alongside partner Mallory Burdette. Later at the Grade A Orange Bowl, she made it to the semifinals as a wildcard, before losing in three sets to compatriot Christina McHale.
Stephens continued her form in 2009, capturing the singles and doubles titles at Grade 1 USTA International Spring Championships (partnering with Mallory Burdette). Stephens then traveled to Italy, where she captured the Grade A Italian Open singles title. The following week, Stephens participated in her first overseas junior Grand Slam, the French Open. As a qualifier, Stephens reached the semifinals, before losing 5–7, 3–6 to eventual champion Kristina Mladenovic.
The following month, Stephens reached the quarterfinals at the junior Wimbledon, before losing again to Mladenovic.Stephens reached a career high junior ranking of world number 5 on August 10, 2009.
Seeded fourth at the junior US Open, Stephens lost in three sets to 14th seed Jana C(epelová in the first round.
At the 2010 Junior Wimbledon Championship, Sloane made it to the quarterfinals of the singles and won the doubles title with Tímea Babos, winning a tough three-setter in the final, 6–7, 6–2, 6–2.