Samantha Stosur vs Sloane Stephens WTA Washington, D.C. semifinal preview and match time: Can Stephens reach her first final?

Hannah Wilks in WTA 8 Aug 2015
Samantha Stosur (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Sloane Stephens is hoping to improve her 0-6 record in WTA Tour semifinals when she faces Samantha Stosur for a place in the Citi Open final on Saturday, but she will have to end Stosur’s eight-match winning streak to do so. 

Samantha Stosur vs Sloane Stephens Citi Open tennis is live from Washington, D.C. at 9pm local/2am BST. Watch & bet on tennis live from Washington at 365

It didn’t take too much in the end for Sam Stosur to stretch her current winning streak to eight matches, as Monica Niculescu retired due to an abdominal injury trailing the Australian 0-4 in their quarterfinal battle.

Stosur has had some strong results during the American hard-court season in the past – most notably winning the US Open in 2011, and Carlsbad in 2013 – and the world no. 21 has certainly made a confident start to this one, beating Kristina Mladenovic 6-2, 6-2 and Irina Falconi 6-1, 7-5 to reach her third WTA Tour quarterfinal of the season before progressing via Niculescu’s retirement to the semifinals.

Stosur is fresh from winning the Bad Gastein title, and one of the WTA Tour’s streakiest players looks to have found a rich vein of form at the moment. The Citi Open is the third tournament in 2015 where Stosur has reached the quarterfinals, and both times she has gone on to win the title: Defeating Mladenovic in three sets to win Strasbourg just before the French Open and staging a comeback in the final against Karin Knapp in Bad Gastein two weeks ago. With the exception of those clay-court titles, good runs for Stosur have been few and far between, although she reached the third rounds of Madrid, the French Open and Wimbledon for a 22-16 record on the year to date.

Sloane Stephens (GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images)
Stosur’s semifinal opponent Sloane Stephens has actually won the same number of matches as her in 2015, excluding this week in Washington D.C., and lost three fewer matches – but has picked up zero titles, not just in 2015 but during the 22-year-old’s career so far. Reuniting with former coach Nick Saviano seems to have stabilized things for Stephens, who looked to be drifting last year, and she has put together a number of solid runs so far this season: She reached the semifinals of Strasbourg and Eastbourne, the quarterfinals of Miami and the fourth rounds of Wimbledon and the French Open.

Stephens, unseeded at the Citi Open, defeated Magda Linette in the first round before benefiting from a walkover from Svetlana Kuznetsova and taking out Louisa Chirico to reach her third semifinal of the season. But what the youngster badly needs is to win a title, or even reach a final, something she is more than talented enough by several orders of magnitude to do. 

Can Stephens overturn her 0-6 record in WTA Tour semifinals when she faces Stosur? Both players have benefited from a helping hand – a retirement in Stosur’s case, a walkover in Stephens’s – to reach the Washington, D.C. semifinals, but the result doesn’t surprise hugely in either case. Stephens, unlike Niculescu, certainly has the weapons to trade with Stosur, but if she doesn’t take the initiative in rallies she will find it wrested out of her hands – unless Stosur has a particularly error-prone day.

Both of the previous matches between these two have come on clay, a 7-5, 6-4 win for Stosur at the French Open in 2014 and a three-set duel in the semifinals of Strasbourg earlier this summer. The question is whether Stephens in particular has learned anything from that Strasbourg defeat – particularly the importance of being proactive. If not, Stosur is just going to prove too confident for her.  

Stosur and Stephens are scheduled on court in Washington, D.C. on Saturday at 9pm local/2am BST

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Samantha Stosur vs Sloane Stephens WTA Washington, D.C. semifinal preview and match time: Can Stephens reach her first final?

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