Already in her young career, American star Sloane Stephens has ruffled the feathers of the top two players in the world, which could be perceived as an acknowledgement of her future potential.
Last year Stephens got into a war of words in the press with Serena Williams. And before then, there was that controversial loss to her next opponent, Victoria Azarenka, who got treatment for choking during the 2013 Australian Open semifinals.
Azarenka and Stephens both share the same agent – the Lagardère Group – but the two apparently don’t talk much. When asked about her relationship with the 2-time Australian Open champion, Stephens curtly responded “nonexistent”.
And the 20-year-old doesn’t want to look back.
“That has nothing to do with this year,” she said of Azarenka’s perceived gamesmanship. “I don’t even remember half the stuff that happened. It’s okay. Like I said, it’s a new match. I mean, it will be Monday hopefully on the big court. It will be exciting.”
Added Azarenka, “I have great memories of last year. That’s all I keep for me. Sloane is a great player, very tough competitor. She has a great record here. I feel like she improved so much. So, you know, I’m excited about that match. It’s going to be tough.”
Stephens advanced to her fifth straight Grand Slam fourth round Saturday after a straight set win over Elena Svitolina at the Australian Open. As she tries to defend semifinal points, the pressure is on.
“I have to play my game and focus on myself,” Stephens said. “I’m not thinking about who thinks I’m the underdog or who is going to be talking about or tweeting about it or whatever. I need to focus on myself and do what I can do.”
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