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Stephens survives Sevastova thriller for second Slam SF

Anastasija Sevastova/twitter.com/@WTA.jpg.
Sloane Stephens thrilled the home crowd by reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal since 2013, surviving a final set tiebreak against No.16 seed Layvia's tennis player Anastasija Sevastova, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4).

In the main draw with the help of a protected ranking after missing nearly a year due to a foot injury, Stephens twice rallied from a break down in the deciding set to edge past the Latvian veteran, who was playing her second straight quarterfinal at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The American lost the first two matches of her comeback, but has been on a tear ever since, reaching back-to-back semifinals at Premier 5 level events at the Rogers Cup and the Western & Southern Open.

Unseeded in Flushing Meadows, she upset 2015 finalist Roberta Vinci in the opening round and followed that up with a tense win over reigning BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global champion Dominika Cibulkova, where she also trailed by a service break in the third. 

Playing her first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium of the tournament, Stephens raced out to a 5-2 lead following tense opening exchanges, but quickly fell behind by the same margin in the second set.

A point from earning a double break lead in the third, Sevastova struggled with nerves, shouting towards her supporters' box as her advantage slipped away. Though she gamely served to stay in the match on two occassions, she fell behind early in the ensuing tiebreak and Stephens took control from there.

"It was a close set," a relaxed Sevastova said after the match. "I think at 5-4 or 6-5 when I was serving, I was in control. There was not many nerves. But maybe before, in the beginning, I was a bit nervous, and also in the tiebreak, as well.

"But it's normal. I mean, it's the third set, you're playing for semifinals of US Open. I'm not a robot. Sorry."

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