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Stephens vs Giorgi tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Slumping Stephens risks early exit from Osaka

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 18 Sep 2019
  • Sloane Stephens faces Camila Giorgi in the second round of the Toray Pan-Pacific Open
  • Stephens vs Giorgi is live from Osaka on Thursday at 12pm local/4am BST
Sloane Stephens (PA Sports)

Sloane Stephens faces Camila Giorgi, a semifinalist at the Toray Pan-Pacific Open last year, for a place in the Osaka quarterfinals.

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Third seed Sloane Stephens is the latest to get her Toray Pan-Pacific Open campaign underway as she takes on Camila Giorgi on Thursday.

This is Stephens’s third appearance at the Premier-level event, and she has not won a match since beating Stefanie Voegele in the first round in 2013.

Stephens lost in the first round of the US Open (PA Sports)
With the (admittedly fairly large) exception of finishing runner-up to Elina Svitolina at the WTA Finals Singapore in 2018, Stephens has rarely flourished on Asian hard courts or recorded noteworthy results in the part of the season which comes after the conclusion of the US Open. The world no. 14 will have to do something impressive in the next few weeks, though, if she is to give herself the chance to defend her finalist points at the year-end championships, held this year in Shenzhen: She is currently all the way down in 23rd place in the Porsche Road to Shenzhen and would need to pick up about 2,000 points to put herself in anything like contention for one of the eight spots.

It’s been a rather forgettable year for Stephens after a great couple of seasons, firstly her US Open triumph in 2017 and then a 2018 season which saw her win the Miami Open and finish runner-up at the French Open, Rogers Cup and WTA Finals. Her best results came on clay, on which she went 10-4, making the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open and the quarterfinals of the French Open before bowing out to Johanna Konta. On hard courts, however, Stephens won back-to-back matches a grand total of once, and that was in January when she made the fourth round of the Australian Open. On American hard courts, she won just one of the five matches she played, suffering defeats to Rebecca Peterson, Marie Bouzkova, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anna Kalinskaya – all good players, but none, except for Kuznetsova, of the calibre a player who beats Stephens without an almighty struggle should be.

It’s all familiar, though, from a decade of Stephens’s career: Supreme talent, inconsistent results. Recently, the American reconnected with former coach Kamau Murray, who oversaw the best period of her career, but it remains to be seen whether that will bear fruit.

First up for Stephens in Osaka is a tough opponent, too, in Camila Giorgi, the hard-hitting Italian who made the semifinals of the Toray Pan-Pacific Open last year, defeating former world no. 1s Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka on the way.

Camila Giorgi (PA Sports)
Giorgi hit a career-high ranking of world no. 26 in October of last year after a career-best season which saw her make a first Grand Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon as well as making semifinals in Sydney and Prague and winning the title in Linz at the very end of the season. But 2019 has been a real struggle for Giorgi, who has been battling various injuries and only played nine matches in January-May, losing six of them before sitting out the entire European clay season. Returning to action in Eastbourne in June, Giorgi went 0-2 on grass, but she reached two WTA Tour finals on American hard courts in the summer: First at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., where she finished runner-up to Jessica Pegula, and then at the Bronx Open in New York where she got good wins over Margarita Gasparyan, Andrea Petkovic, Alize Cornet and top seed Wang Qiang, only to be denied the title by Magda Linette in a thrilling final.

Giorgi got just one game against Maria Sakkari in the first round of the US Open, but after her American hard-court results she looked like she might be set for a good Asian hard-court autumn and she got off to a winning start vs qualifier Han Xinyun in Osaka, beating the world no. 178 76(6), 6-1.

Stephens and Giorgi are 2-2 against each other, and Giorgi actually owns a 2-1 advantage over the American on hard courts, having beaten her in Montreal in 2016 and Sydney in 2018 although Stephens won their most recent encounter at Roland Garros last June. I don’t struggle to see how Giorgi can be a very difficult opponent for Stephens. The Italian is notorious for her flat-hitting style, in which she more or less swings at every ball as hard as she can, creating staccato matches which make it difficult for an opponent to get their rhythm and can feel as if they are being dictated wholly by Giorgi’s winners or errors (although a modicum of point construction has crept into her game in recent years). Stephens likes to hit a lot of balls, play long rallies and wear down opponents, and if she is being insufficiently aggressive or struggling to find her range, she’s very much in danger of being hit off the court by Giorgi. I actually think this is a big test for Stephens, her revived partnership with Murray and her hopes of salvaging something from 2019 with a strong end to her season: If she comes out on to court sharp and aggressive and ready to compete, she should be able to beat the erratic Italian. If not, Giorgi will be back in the Osaka quarterfinals. 

Stephens vs Giorgi Toray Pan-Pacific Open tennis is live from Osaka on Thursday at 12pm local/4am BST

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Stephens vs Giorgi tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Slumping Stephens risks early exit from Osaka

Sloane Stephens vs Camila Giorgi live streaming, preview and predictions for the WTA Osaka second-round match on Thursday 19 September: An Osaka semifinalist in 2018, hard-hitting Giorgi has a 2-1 record on hard courts vs world no. 14 Stephens

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