Rebeka Masarova, a Spanish qualifier, defeated second-seeded Sloane Stephens 6-3, 7-5 (5) at the ASB Tennis Classic on Wednesday as the WTA Tour event’s organizers battled a backlog of singles matches brought on by persistent rain.
To ensure that the first round of singles was completed, matches had to be played inside and without any spectators present. Stephens struggled to adjust to the indoor setting and lost to the 130th-ranked Masarova in just under two hours on a day that would be notable for the number of American players playing.
The game was a repeat from the previous night; When play was stopped late Tuesday night, Masarova held a serve advantage of 2-1. She broke Stephens right away, 3-1, and won the first set, 6-3, in 41 minutes, despite having a strong serve.
Stephens broke in the fourth game to tie the match at 2-2 and broke again in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead after Masarova took an early 2-0 lead in the second set.
Yet, Masarova crushed spirit in the game and verged on doing so again in the eleventh game when she had three break focuses at 0-40 which Stephens had the option to save. Masarova went up 6-2 in the sudden death round and lastly fixed the match on her fourth match highlight guaranteeing her most memorable success over a main 50 player starting around 2016.
Stephens stated, “I thought I played some good points.” At times, I thought I played well.
I have to be realistic because it is the first tournament of the year. I just know there is stuff to build on.
Stephens wants to play next week in Hobart, Australia, to get ready for the Australian Open, which starts on January 16 in Melbourne.
Prior, previous Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin beat Wang Xinyu of China 7-6 (6), 6-3, and will presently confront top-cultivated countryman Coco Gauff in the subsequent round.
Kenin stated, “Unfortunately, we had to go inside, but it was less windy, so that was not a problem I needed to worry about.” However, the courts seemed very quick, especially considering who I played on them.
“She’s not a simple rival and after the match I told my Father I have any idea what’s worse, to play inside or outside against her since she’s a truly extreme player.”
She will now play Danka Kovinic, who defeated Nao Hibino of Japan 6-1, 6-4. Kovinic is the seventh seed.
Second-round matches including Venus Williams, Leylah Fernandez, and Emma Raducanu all have been delayed until Thursday when they might need to be played inside assuming precipitation perseveres.