Melbourne – American teen tennis sensation Sloane Stephens battled into her first Grand Slam quarter-final 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 either Serena Williams or Maria Kirilenko.
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 hoped to play Williams next.
“I haven't beaten Serena and I hope I'll give you all a good show.”
Stephens steamrolled through the first set before the 56th-ranked Jovanovski, 21, woke up and gave her a fright.
The American grabbed the decisive first break on the Serb's opening service game and didn't look back in a set that lasted just 25 minutes.
Jovanovski, another of the tour's big grunters, put up more of a fight as the second set got underway. Both players held serve for 2-2 before Stephens hit a backhand long to give the Serb her first glimmer of hope with a break.
But she threw it away immediately, netting a forehand at break point down before breaking straight back to go 4-3 in front as the intensity of the match rose.
Stephens was rattled and making mistakes as Jovanovski capitalised, winning her serve and then breaking again to take it into a deciding set.
Both players were struggling with their serve, Jovanovski double-faulting six times, and the set saw five breaks as it turned into a baseline slugfest that Stephens finally won when the Serb fired a forehand into the net. – Sapa-AFP