This is the first time I've ever encountered American teenager Sloane Stephens, and she debuts with a big bang - a semifinal appearance in the Australian Open! Now that the Williams sisters are in the twilights of their careers, there has been a slew of competent American players like Varvara Lepchenko, Madison Keys, and Jamie Hampton slowly climbing up the ranks.
I guess I didn't notice Sloane very much since in most TV coverages of grand slams, a lesser-known player only gets TV time, if she plays one of the greats - and if she also wins over that great player - her TV mileage increases by leaps and bounds - something that is definitely going to happen to Sloane after her quarterfinal victory today over fellow American Serena Williams.
Sloane really played well today, keeping toe-to-toe with an injured Serena. She took advantage of that fact but even then, you could see that Serena still had some tricks up her sleeve. The only difference now is that Serena is playing rallies instead of bamboozling Sloane with her killer serve and return of serves! Sloane just hang in there and edged her more celebrated opponent in the end!
Sloane is currently ranked #25 in the world today and her scalps in this tournament include Romanian Simona Halep (#45), Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic (#98), British Laura Robson (#53), Serbian Bojana Jovanovski (#56) and Serena Williams (#3).