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2018 U.S. OPEN DAY 1: Defending Champion Sloane Stephens Glides Through Round 1 To Defend Her Title

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

On Monday afternoon, Sloane Stephens began her US Open defense with an almost-routine win over Evgeniya Rodina, 6-1, 7-5, in their first career meeting.

The American couldn’t have wished for a better start as she closed out the first set in less than 30 minutes. The world No. 80 didn’t truly settle in until she was down 4-2 in the second set, which helped Stephens shake off some early nerves.

"I was a little bit nervous. I think obviously it's never easy as an American playing in the US Open," Stephens said. "I think I've felt worse nerves than that, playing here before in previous years."

Things are very different for Stephens this time around in New York. The 25-year-old returns as a US Open and Miami Open champion, a world No. 3 and a Nike star, decked out in a bright orange dress.

Another change for Stephens was playing in the new Louis Armstrong Stadium, complete with a retractable roof. It's quite breezy inside thanks to its open-air setup, designed so that when the roof is closed, there’s still a natural atmosphere on court. The new breezeway allows fans to walk and talk during play, and since the slot of open air is barely above eye level, it adds a new challenge for players trying to tune out the noise and movement.

"It was just loud," Stephens said. "There was a lot going on between the airplanes and the subway behind the court, the concessions being in the lower bowl, and people walking in the games at, like, 2-all, 3-all. Yes, it was fun to play first day on a brand-new stadium court. But there was a lot happening. Full article here.

Posted by Shelia

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