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Alexandra Stevenson: I'm Back!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Black Tennis Pro's Alexandra StevensonFormer Wimbledon semi-finalist Alexandra Stevenson's hopes of emulating her 1999 success began in earnest today when she defeated Neuza Silva in a tough three-set encounter.

The American, who nine years ago became the first female qualifier in Wimbledon history to reach the semi-finals, overcame blustery conditions to dispose of her 199th ranked opponent 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

The match was always going to be a close encounter with Stevenson ranked just 20 places below her Portugese contender, and the first set was by no means short of rallies.

A largely baseline affair, both women exuded power, agility and there were plenty of winners hit from both sides. But it was the 27-year-old American that secured an early break and, serving at 5-4, played an aggressive game to take the first set 6-4.

Windy conditions dominated the second set which saw more mistakes and less winners, but a gritty performance by 25-year-old Silva helped her even up the match to a set apiece.

Come the decider, the grunting became louder and strokes more aggressive as both women charged the net in a bid to finish off points. But it was to be Stevenson's day as she powered her way into the second round.

Speaking after the match, the American, who was watched by her mother, had a message for the tennis pundits that had written her off.

"I'm planning on qualifying," she said. "In the tennis world they write you off if you are injured. I'm saying I'm ready but taking one match at a time."

Stevenson added that the conditions were really "windy and swirly" and said it was a battle on the courts because they are not "pristine" like Wimbledon.

"It's a large park, everything is going on, you've got aircraft noise, but it's qualifying and you know you are going to have tough conditions. I love the grass, I think there should be more grass court tournaments," she smiled.

©AELTC / T. Lovelock

Posted by Shelia

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