It was certainly a case of fortune favours the brave when the 16th seed, Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia walked on to the Arthur Ashe Stadium court to face the unseeded Maria Sharapova of Russia.
The two, who had never played each other before, both admitted that it was going to be a tough battle, with Sevastova acknowledging that she would have to play her best tennis to win.
Anastasija Sevastova is no stranger to the game. She turned professional in 2006 and was a regular on the WTA tour until 2013, when after several injuries and losing a bit of the interest, she retired. In 2010, she won her first WTA tournament, the Estoril Open.
She returned to the game in 2015, joining the ITF tour, where she won four tournaments, before being bumped back up to the WTA tour. After defeating Garbine Muguruza and Johanna Konta, she reached last year’s US Open quarter-finals before falling to Caroline Wozniacki. Earlier this year, she defeated Julia Georges to claim the Mallorca Open.
What can we say about Maria Sharapova that hasn’t already been said – nothing. She’s a true champion, and like Rafael Nadal, the one person on tour that you know will fight for every point right until the end.
But everyone has a weakness and if you can withstand Sharapova’s ice cold stare and dominant mental strength, which already gives her a set advantage before the match has started, get her off the baseline and make her run, you will be able to beat her. It’s simple, and yet, so many players just don’t get it.
Somehow, Sevastova had worked it out.
The three-set pulsating match, which lasted 2 hours and 16 minutes, included some unbelievable shots by both players, another bathroom break by Sharapova at the end of the second set – this one only lasted 4 minutes and didn’t rattle her opponent, net dominance by Sevastova and 51 unforced errors by Sharapova, which then cancelled out her impressive 42 winners. I must just mention that Sevastova only made 14 unforced errors, which is most impressive seeing that she was trying to mow everything down.
The final score was 5-7 6-4 6-2 and means that the Latvian will make a back-to-back US Open quarter-final appearance.
Her next opponent will be the American, Sloane Stephens who slugged it out against Julia Georges of Germany, 6-3 3-6 6-1 to reach her first US Open quarter-final.