Defending champ Sloane Stephens knocked out of US Open quarters

First, there were four break points squandered, along with an early chance for the lead.

Next, three more wasted.

Pretty soon, Sloane Stephens' run at a US Open repeat was lost too.

The defending champion was eliminated today, beaten by Anastasija Sevastova 6-2, 6-3 in the quarter-finals.

"I didn't play the big points well, and you don't win matches when you don't take your opportunities," Stephens said.

Stephens beat Sevastova in the same round last year en route to her first Grand Slam title, but she missed numerous chances to grab an early lead in the rematch and could never get back into the match.

Sevastova, the No. 19 seed from Latvia, will play either Serena Williams or 2016 US Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova in her first Grand Slam semifinal.

That's further than it ever appeared Sevastova would get in tennis when she retired in May 2013, her body battered by muscular and back-related injuries.

She returned nearly two years later and finally broke through on her third straight appearance in the US Open quarter-finals.

"It was an amazing journey, this three, four years," she said.

Three-quarters of Arthur Ashe Stadium was in the sun on another day of more than 32-degree celcius temperatures in New York, and Stephens seemed to lack some of her usual sideline-to-sideline court coverage in the heat.

Stephens said she had been battling a cold, but her biggest problem today might have been her serve. The No. 3 seed was broken five times in the 84-minute match.

"Mentally, physically, I just wasn't connecting," Stephens said. "It just was a really tough day. The heat doesn't make it any more fun."

Stephens, one of the best defenders in the game, squandered all seven break-point chances in the first set, missing out a chance for early momentum during a lengthy third game of the match.

She couldn't convert four chances to break in that game that lasted 18 points, and Sevastova then quickly broke her for a 3-1 lead.

Stephens then couldn't convert three more chances in the next game, and never got another in the first set.

Her frustration became apparent, whether she was gesturing to her coach, staring in annoyance at deep balls that bounced off the baseline, or just screaming out in general.

"I'm trying!" she responded to a plea from the crowd to pick it up in the second set.

She did eventually get close, breaking Sevastova at love to cut it to 4-3 in the second set.

But Sevastova broke right back during another lengthy game, this one lasting 14 points, and soon it was over — but not before Stephens made a pretty good run at becoming the first repeat champion since Williams won three in a row from 2012-14.

"So the fact that I made it to the quarterfinals and played some really good matches and I just competed as hard as I could, I mean, a lot to be proud of," Stephens said.

"And obviously defending a title is very hard, very difficult."

2018 US Open Tennis Tournament- Day Nine.  Sloane Stephens of the United States reacts during her loss against Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in the women's singles quarter-finals match on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2018 US Open Tennis Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 4th, 2018 in Flushing, Queens, New York City.  (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Sloane Stephens of the United States reacts during her loss against Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in the women's singles quarter-finals match on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2018 US Open Tennis Tournament. Source: Getty


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US Open umpire who gave Nick Kyrgios pep talk gets two tournament ban

The chair umpire who climbed out of his seat to talk with Nick Kyrgios during a US Open match was suspended for two tournaments by the ATP.

Mohamed Lahyani will not officiate at his next two scheduled events — the China Open in Beijing, which starts on October 1, and the Shanghai Masters the following week, the men's tour said in a statement today.

The ATP says Layhani's actions during Kyrgios' second-round victory over Pierre-Hugues Herbert at Flushing Meadows on August 30 were "deemed to have compromised the impartiality that is required of an official."

According to the statement, he is one of seven full-time ATP chair umpires.

As a full-time employee, he is subject to tour discipline, even though what he did came at the US Open, which is under the jurisdiction of the US Tennis Association.

Kyrgios, a 23-year-old Australian, did not appear to be putting forth much effort while dropping the first set and falling behind 3-0 in the second against Herbert.

During a changeover, Lahyani left his chair — a rare sight in Grand Slam tennis — to speak to Kyrgios, leaning with hands on knees while saying, "I want to help you."

The 30th-seeded Kyrgios wound up beating Herbert 4-6, 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-0, then lost to Roger Federer in his next match.

Herbert said at the time he thought Lahyani should be sanctioned in some way.

"This was not his job," Herbert said. "I don't think he's a coach, he's an umpire, and he should stay on his chair for that."

Kyrgios, meanwhile, laughed at the idea that he had received coaching or a pep talk from Lahyani.

The next day, USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier said Lahyani had gone "beyond our protocol," but would be allowed to continue to work matches during the US Open because of his "exemplary track record as an international tennis official."

Lahyani then was assigned to umpire doubles matches during that tournament.

"Mohamed is a world-class and highly respected official. However, his actions during the match crossed a line that compromised his own impartiality as a chair umpire," Gayle Bradshaw, ATP executive vice president of rules and competition, said in today's statement.

"Although well-intended, his actions were regrettable and cannot go without disciplinary action on our own Tour. We know that he will learn from this experience and we look forward to welcoming him back in October."

Lahyani will be able to resume umpiring at the Stockholm Open on October 15.

His suspension was first reported by The New York Times.

Swedish official Mohamed Lahyani has come under fire for his talk with Kyrgios during his second-round match. Source: SKY


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Serena was wrong: New report disproves Williams' 'sexism' claims made during - and after - US Open final meltdown

Serena Williams' claims of sexism from tennis officials have been debunked in spectacular fashion, with an investigation from the New York Times finding that men are hit with nearly three times the amount of conduct violations as their female counterparts.

Williams, 36, a 23-time single grand slam champion, was given three separate code violations in last week's US Open final, resulting in Naomi Osaka being awarded a crucial point penalty which gifted her game seven of the second set, then an even more crucial game penalty to gift her the next game, and a 5-3 second set lead.

In a fiery on court scene, Williams protested that she was a victim of sexism, telling tournament referee Brian Earley, "there are men out here who do a lot worse than me, but because I'm a woman you are going to take this away from me?

"That is not right."

However, the New York Times report finds Williams' claims are well wide of the mark.

In the 20-year period between 1998 and 2018, men have accrued 1,517 separate code violations, while women feature incurred 535.

The only real exception comes in terms of players being cited for coaching, with women being given violations 152 times, compared to men's 87.

Williams' first code violation was for coaching, before also notching up citations for racket abuse, and verbal abuse, calling chair umpire Carlos Ramos a "thief".

As a result of her outburst, Williams was slapped with a fine of NZ $25,700. 

She claimed over $2m in prize money for being the runner-up.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08:  Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her Women's Singles finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)
Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her women's singles US Open finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan. Source: Getty


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'I just don't understand' - Serena Williams doubles down on claims of sexism in US Open final

Serena Williams is holding her ground on claims of sexism against chair umpire Carlos Ramos, following her explosive outburst at last week's US Open final defeat.

Williams, 36, a 23-time single grand slam champion, was given three separate code violations in her loss in the US Open final, resulting in Naomi Osaka being awarded a crucial point penalty which gifted her game seven of the second set, then an even more crucial game penalty to gift her the next game, and a 5-3 second set lead.

She would later add that the incident was sexist, and that male players are able to get away with worse on-court infringements.

Appearing on Australia's The Project, Williams spoke publicly for the first time about the ordeal.

"I just don't understand … if you're a female you should be able to do even half of what a guy can do," Williams said. 

Williams also hit back at Ramos' claims that she'd received coaching from trainer Patrick Mouratoglou - which he'd admitted to - denying her own involvement.

"He said he made a motion."

"I don't understand what he was talking about. We've never had signals."

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08:  Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her Women's Singles finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)
Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her women's singles US Open finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan. Source: Getty


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Umpire Carlos Ramos back to work after Serena Williams' US Open final outburst

The chair umpire who penalised Serena Williams in the US Open final is back at work.

Carlos Ramos is working the best-of-five Davis Cup semifinal series between Croatia and the United States.

"I'm just focusing on this tie and working again. That's all I can say," Ramos told The Associated Press.

Ramos officiated the second singles match between Marin Cilic and Frances Tiafoe, which was completed without incident.

Ramos calmed the raucous crowd on several occasions and came down from his chair to check a few ball marks in the clay but otherwise had no impact on the match, which Cilic won in straight sets to give Croatia a 2-0 lead.

"It was great. There were even a few calls where he came to check. Everything was really good," Cilic said. "The atmosphere was also great. I enjoyed every single second of the match."

Tiafoe, who was making his Davis Cup debut, also didn't have any complaints.

"I didn't know Ramos was sitting in the chair. I really wasn't paying attention," Tiafoe said. "I was more worried about the person across the net than the official."

US captain Jim Courier added: "We thought the officiating was excellent all day long."

Ramos gave Williams three code violations in her straight-set loss to Naomi Osaka last weekend, and the American great argued she wasn't being treated the same as some male players.

USTA president and CEO Katrina Adams, who defended Williams, was overheard apologising to Ramos on the sidelines of Thursday's draw ceremony.

Ramos wouldn't go into details over his discussion with Adams, who initiated the conversation.

"You know I cannot talk about that," Ramos said.

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08:  Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her Women's Singles finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan on Day Thirteen of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 8, 2018 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for USTA)
Serena Williams of the United States argues with umpire Carlos Ramos during her women's singles US Open finals match against Naomi Osaka of Japan. Source: Getty


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