Australian Open 🇦🇺 R1 Preview
(13) 🇺🇸 Sloane Stephens vs 🇨🇳 Shuai Zhang
The 2018 Australian Open will be Sloane Stephens’ first Grand Slam appearance since claiming her maiden Grand Slam title at the U.S Open last year. Stephens will begin the event with an opening round clash against China’s Shuai Zhang. Interestingly, Stephens is yet to win a match since her win over Madison Keys in the final of last year’s U.S Open, Stephens arrives in Melbourne on the back of 5 consecutive losses.
Sloane Stephens and Shuai Zhang both made their big breakthrough’s at the Grand Slam level at Melbourne Park, both have great memories at the event. Stephens reached the semi-finals in 2013 whilst Zhang reached the quarter-finals in 2016. The quick hard courts in Melbourne really suit both Stephens and Zhang.
Sloane Stephens’ only match in the lead-up to the Australian Open was In Sydney where she was trashed by Camila Giorgi 6-3 6-0 in the opening round. Shuai Zhang’s form is better but unspectacular, Zhang reached the second round in Shenzhen and Hobart, beaten by Diyas in 3 sets in Shenzhen and Sabalenka in straight sets in Hobart.
Stephens holds a 2-1 head-to-head record over Zhang. The most recent match between the pair took place on grass in Birmingham in 2014, Stephens won 6-3 6-1.