Sloane Stephens: “Like, Whatever.”
I was going to write about American Sloane Stephens and her first round match today. I was going to write about how she came into Wimbledon with the longest active streak of second week appearances at major tournaments, and how she was trying to extend the streak to seven straight. I was going to write about her opponent, the unseeded Maria Kirilenko. I was going to write about how Kirilenko was a former top 10 player, a former Wimbledon quarterfinalist, and how her struggles with injury had nearly taken her out of the top 100. I was going to write about how the Russian had only won one match all year, that Stephens was a heavy favorite heading into Day One of Wimbledon.
I was going to write about the enigma that is the Sloane Stephens career arc, how she is able to perform well on big stages yet poorly on regular Tour events. I was going to write about how she is the highest ranked woman without a WTA Tour title, the only woman in the top 30 yet to make even a final, despite less heralded compatriots like Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe each winning maiden titles last week. I was going to write about how that doesn’t seem to matter, for regardless of how she plays at smaller tournaments, regardless of how few points she wins against Caroline Wozniacki in a second set bagel, regardless of how paltry her overall win-loss record might be, Sloane Stephens has proven she moves to a higher plane at a major tournament. I was going to write about how the blasé attitude she often exudes ironically helps her in matches like the one she played against Kirilenko today. I was going to write about how, opening play on Court 18, Stephens looked like she couldn’t care less, and how Kirilenko couldn’t care more, both of which were illustrated by the effortlessness with which the American saved five match points in one serve game in the second set.
I was going to write about how Stephens capitalizes on opportunities, like the one she found early in the second set tiebreaker against the Russian underdog. I was going to write about how she put herself within a forehand put-away of both a final set and an all-but-assured victory.
I was going to write about all of that. I was going to write “like whatever,” a strategy Stephens herself admitted she had employed in the second set tiebreaker when talking to the press.
It didn’t work for her, so I decided not to bother.
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