Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

U.S. teen strengthens case for future stardom

Unseeded Sloane Stephens, 19, takes out 22nd seed Francesca Schiavone in the first round 6-3, 6-4.

Getty Images

Unseeded Sloane Stephens, 19, takes out 22nd seed Francesca Schiavone in the first round 6-3, 6-4.

NEW YORK — Sloane Stephens raised her eyebrows and with a sly smile didn't hesitate in answering the question of whether this American teenager is tennis' next superstar.

"She is," Stephens said.

Bubbly and confident, Stephens, 19, plays the part of the youngest woman ranked in the top 50 in the world. Stephens on Tuesday defeated 22nd-seeded Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-4 in the first round of the U.S. Open, technically an upset because the American is ranked 44th, a career best.

Then again, Stephens has advanced to at least the third round at three of her past four Grand Slam events.

"I don't have a crystal ball to see the future, but I can say that she's an athlete who has every possibility to produce some great tennis," said Schiavone, 32, the 2010 French Open champion. "First of all, she's athletic. She has long legs. She did some great sprints (Tuesday). And she can change speeds, change the height of her shots. That's important."

Her successes assure Stephens that she doesn't need to do anything out of the ordinary to beat players such as Schiavone.

"I did everything that my coach asked me to do," Stephens said. "I just really stayed within myself and tried to do my best. For me, that's a big step. If you do everything you want to do in your match, if you accomplish all your goals for today, which I did, I'm pleased, very pleased with myself. That's something that gives you confidence, and that takes you far."

Also on the women's side, Serena Williams advanced to the second round, defeating CoCo Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-1 in 55 minutes. Sister Venus, playing her first U.S. Open match since she pulled out before the second round in 2011 and revealed she had been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, used her powerful serve to right herself and beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-3, 6-1.

One Venus serve of 124 mph jammed Mattek-Sands' left index finger, shoving it into a racket string so hard she needed attention from a trainer.

"She was crushing her serves," Mattek-Sands said. "I don't think anyone's returning those, so I'm not going to beat myself up too much."

One exit of significance: 2009 runnerup Caroline Wozniacki, who began the year ranked No. 1 but has struggled and was seeded eighth, lost 6-2, 6-2 to 96th-ranked Irina-Camelia Begu. Bothered by a bad right knee, Wozniacki also lost in the first round at Wimbledon.

Andy Roddick, whose 2003 U.S. Open title was the last Grand Slam title won by an American man, beat 21-year-old American qualifier Rhyne Williams 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Appearing in his 13th consecutive U.S. Open, Roddick turns 30 Thursday. Asked in an on-court interview what sort of present he would like, he smiled and responded: "I just want to be around for next week. That's all I want for my birthday."

After a pause, he added: "And then we'll renegotiate."

.Fast facts

U.S. Open

Today's featured matches

Men No. 3 Andy Murray vs. Ivan Dodig, No. 9 John Isner vs. Xavier Malisse. Women No. 1 Victoria Azarenka vs. Kirsten Flipkens, No. 3 Maria Sharapova vs. Lourdes Dominguez Lino, No. 7 Sam Stosur vs. Edina Gallovits-Hall

TV: Tennis Channel (10:30 a.m.), ESPN2 (1 and 7 p.m.)

U.S. teen strengthens case for future stardom 08/28/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 11:22pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. James Wilder Jr. back at running back...in Canada

    Blogs

    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

  2. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  3. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  4. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108