NEWYORK (Reuters) – Former champion Sloane Stephens was stunned by Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya 6-3 6-4 in the first round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday.
The American 11th seed, who triumphed here in 2017, fought off two match points but on the third was caught off guard when a backhand from the Russian clipped the net chord and landed in.
Kalinskaya, playing her first career Grand Slam night match and first inside Arthur Ashe Stadium, did not appear intimidated facing Stephens, whose U.S. Open tune-up included a run to the last 16 in Cincinnati.
“It feels amazing to win the first match on this court, a subdued Kalinskaya said in her on-court interview. “I just tried to focus and don’t think too much about her and think just about my game.”
Kalinskaya was only broken once during the match and managed to convert three of her four break point chances.
Up next for Kalinskaya will be American wildcard Kristie Ahn.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue)