No sooner did Wimbledon get underway Monday than an American woman was upended.
Maria Kirilenko beat Sloane Stephens, the No. 18 seed, 6-2, 7-6 (8-6), on the first day of the tournament. Stephens advanced to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last year, losing to the eventual champion, Marion Bartoli. Stephens had not failed to advance to at least the fourth round at a major since the 2013 Australian Open, the longest active run at majors by a woman.
Stephens saved five match points serving at 5-6 against Kirilenko, ranked 109th in the world.
“[In the tiebreaker] I wouldn’t say I was thinking, ‘Okay, I’m going to get to a third set.’ I was just thinking, ‘Okay, play every point like whatever.’ I got up in the tiebreaker, and that was good,” Stephens told reporters. “I mean, she played some good tennis. There’s nothing I could do. I hit a forehand cross‑court and she was standing there waiting to lob it over my head. So that wasn’t the greatest play on earth. I could tell you a whole bunch of things I could have done differently. But it was a match. I played an opponent who played pretty solid. It was just a rough day for me.”