Sloane Stephens looks to advance further on Wednesday when she takes on Timea Babos for a spot in the third round of the Australian Open. The American was a semi finalist in 2013, losing in that controversial matchup to the eventual champion Victoria Azarenka. Stephens and Babos go way back with the pair making for a formidable junior doubles team that won three slams in Girls Doubles.
The first round win for Stephens gave her some much needed relief at this event, having not won a match in Melbourne since 2014. “It’s been a tough couple of years here, but I do love this tournament. It’s always tough the first slam of the year kind of getting going. I had a good result here once before, so I think I’m going to try to do it again.” she said post-match. Although she lost the first 8 points of the match, it was a fairly routine win for her against the unorthodox style of Taylor Townsend, one of a few female players to employ serve and volley regularly.
Babos held her nerve to advance in two tiebreak sets against Ons Jabeur to make just her second Australian Open second round. The Hungarian is an outstanding doubles player, winning the title last year in addition to becoming World No.1 with Kristina Mladenovic. Her singles career doesn’t quite matchup but she remains a solid player inside the top 50 although she went on multiple lengthy losing streaks last year.
Stephens has a nice opening to make at least the quarter final for the first time since 2013 with Kiki Bertens the strongest possible opponent until that stage. The American’s form at slams since returning is peculiar with first round exits sandwiched between three very successful tournaments, including the 2017 US Open final. She is 1-0 against Babos although it’s hard to take much from a match that took place over six years ago.
Prediction – Sloane Stephens in straight sets