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Stephens vs Putintseva WTA Sydney Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Stephens continues Sydney bid against Putintseva in Round 2

Leye Aduloju in WTA Tour 8 Jan 2019
  • Sloane Stephens vs Yulia Putintseva is live from Sydney from Wednesday, 9 January from 8:30pm local time/ 9:30am GMT
  • Stephens and Putintseva are 1-1 on head-to-head
Sloane Stephens. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

After surviving a tough examination from qualifier, Ekaterina Alexandrova in the first round, world No. 5, Sloane Stephens aims to reach the quarter finals of the Sydney International on Wednesday as she takes on Yulia Putintseva in the second round.

Stephens had fallen to Johanna Konta in her 2019 opener in Brisbane, and the former US Open champion seemed destined to slip to a 0-2 record in 2019 for most of her match against Alexandrova, but she dug very deep to pull off a 0-6 7-6 7-6 victory.

After shutting out Stephens in the opening set, Alexandrova looked set for the big win when she broke for the 4-3 lead in the second, but she suffered a nasty fall while serving for the match at 5-4, appearing to injure her wrist, and subsequently dropped her serve. Stephens made the most of the reprieve, going on to take the set on a tie break.

The 72nd-ranked Russian received a medical time out at the end of the set, and began playing more freely again in the third set, breaking for a 3-1 lead, but Stephens responded by reeling off four straight games, earning a chance to serve for the match at 5-4. The rollercoaster continued as Alexandrova broke back, but Stephens dominated the ensuing tie break to eke out her first win of 2019, and her first ever win at the Sydney International. She was beaten by Camila Giorgi on debut last season.

Stephens actually lost her first two matches last year, stretching her losing streak to eight matches in the aftermath her 2017 US Open triumph, but the American would soon rediscover her form, winning her first Premier Mandatory title in Miami and reaching finals at Roland Garros, Montreal and the WTA Finals in Singapore to firmly set herself into the world's top ten.

With no points to defend in Australia, Stephens can further entrench herself in the top ten with strong performances in Sydney and particularly, the Australian Open, and but she has got a tough task in Sydney on Wednesday as she faces Putintseva in Round 2. 

After breezing through qualifying, dropping a combined six games against Destanee Aiava and Zarina Diyas, Putintseva put in another quality performance to beat home favourite, Daria Gavrilova in the first round of the main draw.

Yulia Putintseva. (Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images)
The Kazakh flew out of the blocks, and looked set for a quick finish when she led 6-1 5-2, but Gavrilova made it tight towards the end, breaking back in the second set and forcing a tie break. The Australian scored the first mini-break of the breaker, edging out to a 2-0 lead, but Putintseva won six of the last seven points to record her first win of the season.

She had come very close to upsetting Karolina Pliskova in her first match of the year at the Brisbane International, but she lost a 6-4 3-1 lead, and was eventually beaten 4-6 6-3 6-4 by the Czech, who went on to take the title.

The 24-year-old is coming off a season where she contested a second tour-level final in Guangzhou and reached the quarter finals of Roland Garros for the second time, a clear testament to her talents, but the diminutive Kazakh has generally struggled for consistency throughout her young career. Outside Roland Garros and Guangzhou last year, the only other tournaments where she won consecutive matches were Taipei and Washington.

Can she sort out that aspect of her game and make a move towards the top 20 this year?

She goes head-to-head with Sloane Stephens in Sydney on Wednesday as the pair dispute a quarter final berth. Both of their previous meeting have gone the distance, in Toronto in 2017 and Nurnberg in 2018, with Stephens winning the former and Putintseva taking the latter, and these two fine athletes look set to put on another lengthy slug in Sydney on Wednesday.

“I played her last year the week before the French. I lost,” Stephens recalled. “It wasn't a great match. But, yeah, we will see. Now it's on hard court. Different surface. Same thing, before a Slam. Just going to go out there and give it my best.”

Putintseva has looked in better form in the opening weeks of the season, while Stephens is yet to really hit her strides, rendering the American very vulnerable to the upset on Wednesday night in Sydney.

Sloane Stephens vs Yulia Putintseva is live from Sydney from Wednesday, 9 January from 8:30pm local time/ 9:30am GMT

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Stephens vs Putintseva WTA Sydney Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Stephens continues Sydney bid against Putintseva in Round 2

Sloane Stephens continues her bid for the Sydney title on Wednesday when she faces Yulia Putintseva in the second round.

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