Sport Shriver perplexed by alarming Stephens slump

19:55  13 january  2018
19:55  13 january  2018 Source:   Omnisport

US Open champion Stephens a first-round casualty in Melbourne

  US Open champion Stephens a first-round casualty in Melbourne American 13th seed and US Open titleholder Sloane Stephens, 24, was upset 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 by Zhang Shuai on Monday.Sloane Stephens and her alarming form slump continued at Melbourne Park after the US Open champion was bundled out of the Australian Open in the opening round.

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SloaneStephenscropped: US Open champion Sloane Stephens © Provided by Omnisport US Open champion Sloane Stephens

Pam Shriver has described Sloane Stephens' slump from her US Open triumph to being horribly out of form as "the most curious six months in the history of a professional tennis player".

Stephens made an astonishing recovery from injury to win her first grand slam title on home soil at Flushing Meadows last September, thrashing fellow American Madison Keys in the final.

The 24-year-old surged over 900 ranking places in the space of a month, coming from nowhere to be crowned champion in a story which even her most optimistic supporters could surely not have scripted.

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Stephens has experienced an alarming decline since her finest hour in New York, losing all seven of her matches after ruthlessly demolishing Keys.

Former world number three Shriver is baffled by her compatriot's struggles, but feels the tide will turn ahead of her first-round match against Zhang Shuai at the Australian Open on Monday.

Shriver told Omnisport: "It's the most curious six months in the history of a professional tennis player. When you think not that long ago she was just coming back from almost a year out of the game, ranked 900 in the world.

"She lost to [Simona] Halep in [Washington] DC and then she went semi-final, semi-final in two big tournaments in Canada and Cincinnati and then she turned the tables at the US Open.

Venus says she didn't play bad despite shock Aus Open exit

  Venus says she didn't play bad despite shock Aus Open exit Last year's runner-up Venus Williams praised Belinda Bencic following her straight-sets loss in Melbourne on Monday.Venus Williams was a high-profile first-round casualty at the Australian Open on Monday but the seven-time grand slam champion was happy with her performance as she heaped praise on Belinda Bencic.

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"Physically and emotionally she handled the final so much better than Madison Keys, so much so that it wasn't even a contest in the end.

"But, if you look at her pattern, when she had her first grand-slam breakthrough - sensationally beating Serena Williams at the Australian Open in 2013 and losing a really tough semi to Victoria Azarenka - she then performed really poorly and started to get injured.

"You sort of think, well the US Open follows her pattern of when she does well in a major, gets distracted, struggles and for whatever reason she loses her way. Most people gain confidence when they do well in a major, but in this day and age in the women's game many have struggled after a breakthrough at a major.

"But this is an extreme, for Sloane to lose so many straight matches, it's really hard to imagine.

"Sloane obviously has such a difference between her high end, her fully confident self, and when she loses confidence, interest and struggles physically. She's too good lose that many games in a row. Obviously, it is life-changing to win a major. She had a big lie down and has not been able to get back up again, but she will be back."

UFC Fight Night 124: Five Fights To Make .
While the UFC’s first event of 2018 didn’t quite live up to its impressive look on paper, Jeremy Stephens made sure that UFC Fight Night 124 ended with a bang. In a shootout between two of the hardest hitters at 145 lbs, the ‘Lil’ Heathen’ was left standing over Doo Ho Choi as a series of elbows on the mat forced referee Keith Peterson to step in after an overhand right dropped ‘The Korean Superboy’. Meanwhile, in the co-main event, Paige VanZant suffered a valiant defeat to Jessica Rose-Clark after fighting two rounds with a broken arm. Rose-Clark proved too physical in the clinch and grappling battles but questions need to be raised with VanZant’s corner as to why she was sent back into the fray after revealing her injury. Elsewhere, Kamaru Usman dampened his own hype with an uneventful but dominant win over Emil Meek while Darren Elkins turned the tide against Michael Johnson to record a sixth straight victory.

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