11
Sep
10

Sloane Stephens moves on in singles and doubles.

 Sloane Stephens overcame a slack start for a 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win against Karolina Pliskova. Stephens didn’t often hit with overwhelming power during the quarterfinal match, which made it all the more lethal when she used it.

At deuce, 4-5 on Pliskova’s serve in the second set, the big Czech hit a looping forehand crosscourt and clearly expected the same in return from Stephens, but what she got from the American was a flat ball ripped down the line for a winner — from two feet behind the baseline. Stephens followed that with excellent defense. Pulled wide to her forehand side, she hit a desperation slice to stay in the point and sprinted back toward the other sideline, anticipating the put-away to open court.

Stephens had evened the match, and had the momentum, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the third set. She took the match with a 5-3 hold that was painful to watch. Stephens was swinging harder than ever on her serve and ground-strokes, but Pliskova imploded. One forehand went wide, one into the net, and another almost hit the backstop. Stephens ended her misery with a service winner to the T.

Stephens next meets Daria Gavrilova of Russia in the semifinals. In the other semifinal, Ons Jabeur, the pride of Tunisian tennis, meets Russian Yulia Putintseva.

In girls’ doubles, Stephens and Timea Babos of Hungaria advanced to the finals against Belgian An-Sophie Mestach and Croatian Silvia Njiric. Regardless of the result, Stephens and Babos should probably register for a few more tournaments together; in their first two outings as a team, they won the French Open and Wimbledon.

17-year-old Jack Sock has punched his ticket to the junior semifinals. The unseeded American defeated No. 13 seed Victor Baluda of Russia on Friday, just a day after taking out No. 5 seed Damir Dzumhur.

Impressive, yes. But the argument can be made that these are ‘upsets’ in name only. After all, Sock won the 18s USTA National Championships last month, and reached the quarterfinals of the Orange Bowl last year. He already owns one pro title — the Amelia Island, Florida futures event — and took world No. 63 Marco Chiudinelli to four sets in a first round men’s match in the Open’s main draw.

However, Open junior seeding depends heavily on a players’ results in International Tennis Federation tournaments held around the world, and Sock has played only a handful in his life. The high school Senior travels sparingly, still lives at home in Lincoln, Nebraska — no hotbed of tennis, pro or otherwise — and still hasn’t decided whether to turn pro or go on to college next year.

He put together a 6-3, 7-6 (4) win over Baluda with the help of a 120-mph serve, occasionally stunning footspeed, and a forehand heavy enough to control play on the run and behind the baseline.

“Baluda was hitting flat, very deep, and he painted some lines today,” Sock said. “I had to cover some court.”

Next up for Sock is No. 2 seed Marton Fucsovics in the semifinals.

In the other semifinal, American Denis Kudla meets Agustin Velotti of Argentina.

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