By Chris Oddo | Wednesday, August 27, 2014
After her error-filled loss to Johanna Larsson on Day 3, Chris Evert tried to break down the psychology of Sloane Stephens.
Sloane Stephens, known for her ability to switch on her oft-lauded athletic talents just in time for the bright lights of the Grand Slams events, has apparently lost her knack for timing.
Day 3: Peng Upsets Radwanska in Straight Sets
Stephens saw her streak of reaching the second week of a major end at six at this year’s Wimbledon, and on Day 3 she was knocked out of the US Open by world No. 96 Johanna Larsson of Sweden in an error-filled three-setter.
Evert: The Hunger Isn't There
Stephens hit 63 errors over the course of the 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 loss, but she’s not about to throw in the towel after two consecutive disappointing performances in majors.
“I'm not gonna dwell on this,” she said to reporters after the match. “I'm just gonna keep improving and getting better and looking forward to the next tournaments.”
But those who fell in love with Stephen’s smooth brand of athleticism and her ability to pull out big matches are doing the dwelling for Stephens. Pundits have been trying to figure out what makes Stephens tick for a long time. She’s been accused of not caring at times, of lacking tactical savvy at others, but never has she been accused of not having potential.
All of which makes her current malaise all the more maddening for those who pegged Stephens as the next big thing for American women’s tennis.
Chris Evert took a stab at trying to pinpoint what is ailing the 21-year-old American after the match today. Here’s what the 18-time major champion had to say:
“I’m disappointed,” said Evert. “I really thought she was looking a lot better and a lot more interested and engaged in what she was doing out there.”
Evert continued: “The hunger’s not there, and I almost see a hesitancy… she’s afraid to commit emotionally. I just think she doesn’t want to feel hurt by it if she loses. She has an out if she feels she didn’t give a hundred percent. If she gives a 100 percent and loses—I think she has a fear of that.”
Stephens, who suffered her earliest ever loss at the US Open, spent most of her press conferences deflecting questions from journalists intent on helping her get to the bottom of her problems.
“Everyone goes through times like this,” she said. “I'm not the first person and won't be the last. Like I said, I'm looking forward to the next tournament. And that's all I can really do, just look forward.”