Australian Open blog: the quarterfinals

When asked if she splurges with the riches that come with playing your way deep into a major tournament, Sloane Stephens took the mature road.

“I’m trying to save my money because I don’t want to be old and broke,” Stephens said after advancing to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

The way the 19-year-old is playing, it looks as though she might have little to worry about financially.

In maybe the tournament’s biggest surprise, America’s reigning tennis superstar Serena Williams fell in three sets to her heir apparent, Slone Stephens, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Stephens reaches her first semi-finals where she will take on top seed Victoria Azarenka. For Williams, it was the first time in her career that she fell to a younger American opponent.

Overpowered by Williams in the first set, it appeared that Stephens wasn’t quite ready to give Serena, 11 years her elder, a serious run. Stephens fought back in the second set as a nagging back injury slowed Williams down. From there, Stephens recognized her opportunity and took advantage.

Williams slammed her racket in frustration towards the end of the third set. Maybe Williams realized that the woman poised to become the next face of American tennis had gotten there sooner than anticipated.

The Winners:

Maria Sharapova rolls once again, handling another fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, 6-2, 6-2. A tough matchup with Li Na awaits Sharapova, who is looking to win twice at a major for the first time in her career. Her only Australian Open title came in 2008.

It was no contest for Andy Murray as the Brit defeated Jeremy Chardy, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2. Murray has yet to be really tested so far in the tournament. That will change when he gets the rematch with Roger Federer that the tennis world had been hoping for. Roger took Wimbledon and a little over a month later, Murray exacted his revenge at the All-England Club for a gold medal at London 2012.

The Losers:

The top four seeds on the men’s side pushed into the semi-finals, thanks in part to Nicolas Almagro. The Spaniard had a meltdown in a five set heartbreaker to fellow countryman, David Ferrer. Up two sets, Almagro dropped the next three, including a fourth set tiebreaker.

Upset Watch/Eye on the Americans:

These days, at this point in a major with Serena Williams off of the bracket, any win by an American is an upset. By default, Sloane Stephens is the only upset bid to watch in the semi-finals. There is even more pressure on Stephens now after knocking off Serena. Stephens needs to get to Azarenka early and control the pace of the match like she did in the second and third set versus Serena. If her net game is as strong as it was in the quarters, she might have the chance to pull off an impressive victory.

The Predictions:

Djokovic over Ferrer in 4

Murray over Federer in 5

Azarenka over Stephens in 2

Shot of the Day:

It’s just a Sloane Stephens kind of day 

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