Sloane Stephens gutted out a tough 3 setter against Bojana Jovanovski, 6-1 3-6 7-5, to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open. That’s the good news. The bad news is that waiting for her will be Serena Williams. The young Stephens took on Serena in Brisbane, losing in straight sets, but playing well. Is she ready to raise her game to the next level and actually challenge Serena? We will soon see.
Quite frankly, I doubt there is anybody outside of some longshot gamblers picking Sloane to actually win. The real question is to what level of competitiveness can she rise. Or is it? It’s sports and anything can happen. Did anybody see Ekaterina Makarova beating Serena last year at the Aussie Open or Virginie Razzano taking out Serena in the first round of Roland Garros a few months later? Sloane must take the court to win. She must not be in awe of a mentor. There is such a thing as showing too much respect in sports. Show respect, yes. But do not let the opponent dictate everything. Look, it’s not likely Sloane will win. However, it’s not impossible that she could win. The first step is belief.
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VICTORIA AZARENKA def. Elena Vesnina, 6-1 6-1
SERENA WILLIAMS def. Maria Kirilenko, 6-2 6-0
SVETLANA KUZNETSOVA def. Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2 2-6 7-5
SLOANE STEPHENS def. Bojana Jovanovski, 6-1 3-6 7-5