Sloane Stephens became the first player to book a place in the quarter finals of this year’s AEGON Classic with a three set win over Alison Riske 7-6 2-6 6-1.
Riske was looking to make her fourth quarter final at this event but found herself up against a tough opponent who is often accused of lacking effort at the smaller events. There was no questions here as Stephens fought off five break points in a mammoth game 8 of the opening set as multiple double faults proved not to be costly.
A vicious backhand to open the next game set Sloane on her way to 15-40 but she too would fail to convert. The set would eventually go to a tiebreak as neither player could manufacture a breakthrough late on. After 6 straight points where the returner failed to get the ball in play, Stephens finally broke that run to go 4-3 up. The all important mini-break came at 4-4 for Stephens who held both points for a 7-4 tiebreak victory.
Riske overcame the disappointment of losing the tiebreak by breaking in the first game of set two and all but secured the set with an additional break for a 5-2 lead. With all the momentum seemingly with Riske, Stephens hit back with a clean display of hitting to move into a 3-0 lead for the loss of just three points. The match got away from Riske very quickly, as she dropped serve once more allowing Stephens the opportunity to serve it out, which she did so confidently.
The winner of Shuai Zhang and Petra Cetkovska awaits in the quarter finals.