Stephens shuts out noise to launch US Open defence with win

Sloane Stephens (Getty Images)
Sloane Stephens (Getty Images)

New York - Sloane Stephens kept her focus upon a hectic return to the US Open on Monday, launching her title defence with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Evgeniya Rodina. 

The third seed admitted she was "a little bit nervous" for her opener on the brand new Louis Armstrong Stadium court, a 12,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof next door to the massive Arthur Ashe Stadium. 

The new court, designed to have a more "intimate" feel than Ashe, echoes not only with the cheers of boisterous New York fans but also with train whistles and the noise of an occasional plane overhead. 

"It was just loud," said Stephens, who nevertheless insisted she enjoyed the new court. 

"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. There's just a lot going on." 

Add in the shot clocks counting the seconds between points - a first in Grand Slam play - and it was all a little daunting. 

"I've got so much going on the court. I'm trying to manage, like, eight different things," Stephens said. 

"Oh, God, just relax a bit. It's tough, but everyone has to deal with it. Your opponent has to deal with it, as well. You've just got to work it out." 

Stephens seemed to have conquered the chaos as she cruised to a 3-1 lead in the second set. 

But Rodina, ranked 80th in the world, had other ideas, turning the tables to take a 5-4 lead before Stephens reasserted herself. 

After narrowly holding serve for 5-5, Stephens broke Rodina at love for a 6-5 lead. She gave herself a match point with a forehand winner and sealed the win when Rodina netted a backhand. 

"It's good to get through that first day," Stephens said. "First round of a Grand Slam is super tough, especially as defending champion. Super excited to get the tournament going."

US Open results on Monday, the first day of the 2018 tournament at Flushing Meadows (x denotes seeded player):

Men

First round

Rafael Nadal (ESP x1) bt David Ferrer (ESP) 6-3, 3-4 - retired

Vasek Pospisil (CAN) bt Lukas Lacko (SVK) 7-5, 6-3, 6-2

Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) bt Gilles Muller (LUX) 7-6 (7/2), 6-7 (9/11), 5-7, 7-6 (8/6), 6-2

Karen Khachanov (RUS x27) bt Albert Ramos (ESP) 6-3, 6-2, 6-3

Jack Sock (USA x18) bt Guido Andreozzi (ARG) 6-0, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) bt Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4

Guido Pella (ARG) bt Casper Ruud (NOR) 6-4, 6-4, 6-1

Paolo Lorenzi (ITA) bt Kyle Edmund (GBR x16) 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-1

Dominic Thiem (AUT x9) bt Mirza Basic (BIH) 6-3, 6-1, 6-4

Steve Johnson (USA) bt Denis Istomin (UZB) 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3

Taylor Fritz (USA) bt Mischa Zverev (GER) 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/2), 6-2

Jason Kubler (AUS) bt Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x19) 6-3, 6-3, 6-4

Denis Shapovalov (CAN x28) bt Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) 7-5, 5-7, 4-1 - retired

Andreas Seppi (ITA) bt Sam Querrey (USA) 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-2, 2-1 - retired

Jeremy Chardy (FRA) bt Andrey Rublev (RUS) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, 6-1

Kevin Anderson (RSA x5) bt Ryan Harrison (USA) 7-6 (7/4), 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

Juan Martin del Potro (ARG x3) bt Donald Young (USA) 6-0, 6-3, 6-4

Denis Kudla (USA) bt Matteo Berrettini (ITA) 6-4, 7-5, 6-2

Andy Murray (GBR) bt James Duckworth (AUS) 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3

Fernando Verdasco (ESP x31) bt Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 6-2, 7-5, 6-4

Borna Coric (CRO x20) bt Florian Mayer (GER) 6-2, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4

Roberto Carballs (ESP) bt Mitchell Krueger (USA) 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3)

Daniil Medvedev (RUS) bt Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) 7-5, 6-4, 6-2

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x15) bt Tommy Robredo (ESP) 6-3, 7-6 (7/1), 6-4

John Isner (USA x11) bt Bradley Klahn (USA) 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-4

Nicolas Jarry (CHI) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-1, 7-5

Cameron Norrie (GBR) bt Jordan Thompson (AUS) 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3

Dusan Lajovic (SRB) bt Damir Dzumhur (BIH x24) 3-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4

Milos Raonic (CAN x25) bt Carlos Berlocq (ARG) 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 1-6, 6-3

Gilles Simon (FRA) bt Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-2, 6-2, 6-3

Ugo Humbert (FRA) bt Collin Altamirano (USA) 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

Stan Wawrinka (SUI) bt Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x8) 6-3, 6-2, 7-5

Women

First round

Kaia Kanepi (EST) bt Simona Halep (ROM x1) 6-2, 6-4

Jil Teichmann (SUI) bt Dalila Jakupovic (SLO) 6-3, 6-0

Vania King (USA) bt Natalia Vikhlyantseva (RUS) 7-6 (7/4), 6-3

Rebecca Peterson (SWE) bt Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS x27) 1-6, 6-4, 6-3

Serena Williams (USA x17) bt Magda Linette (POL) 6-4, 6-0

Carina Witthoeft (GER) bt Caroline Dolehide (USA) 6-3, 7-6 (8/6)

Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Whitney Osuigwe (USA) 6-4, 6-1

Venus Williams (USA x16) bt Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 6-3, 5-7, 6-3

Garbine Muguruza (ESP x12) bt Zhang Shuai (CHN) 6-3, 6-0

Karolina Muchova (CZE) bt Dayana Yastremska (UKR) 6-4, 6-2

Lucie Safarova (CZE) bt Petra Martic (CRO) 6-4, 6-4

Ashleigh Barty (AUS x18) bt Ons Jabeur (TUN) 6-1, 6-3

Maria Sakkari (GRE x32) bt Asia Muhammed (USA) 6-3, 6-3

Sofia Kenin (USA) bt Madison Brengle (USA) 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (7/4)

Ana Bogdan (ROM) bt Marie Bouzkov (CZE) 6-4, 6-2

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x8) bt Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 6-4, 7-6 (7/4)

Sloane Stephens (USA x3) bt Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) 6-1, 7-5

Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) bt Kathinka Von Deichmann (LIE) 1-6, 7-6 (7/0), 5-2 - retired

Victoria Azarenka (BLR) bt Viktoria Kuzmova (SVK) 6-3, 7-5

Daria Gavrilova (AUS x25) bt Sara Sorribes (ESP) 6-0, 6-0

Barbora Strycova (CZE x23) bt Danielle Lao (USA) 6-3, 6-4

Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) bt Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-0, 6-3

Vera Lapko (BLR) bt Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 6-3, 6-3

Elise Mertens (BEL x15) bt Kurumi Nara (JPN) 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 7-5

Julia Goerges (GER x9) bt Anna Kalinskaya (RUS) 6-2, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2

Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) bt Heather Watson (GBR) 6-1, 3-6, 6-3

Claire Liu (USA) bt Polona Hercog (SLO) 7-6 (7/4), 1-6, 6-4

Anastasija Sevastova (LAT x19) bt Donna Vekic (CRO) 6-2, 2-6, 6-3

Wang Qiang (CHN) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK x31) 6-2, 6-2

Irina-Camelia Begu (ROM) bt Jennifer Brady (USA) 6-3, 6-3

Tatjana Maria (GER) bt Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 6-3, 6-3

Elina Svitolina (UKR x7) bt Sachia Vickery (USA) 6-3, 1-6, 6-1

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