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Stephens vs Tomljanovic WTA Charleston live streaming, preview and tips - Stephens aiming for first quarter-final of 2019 against dangerous Tomljanovic

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 4 Apr 2019
  • Sloane Stephens vs Ajla Tomljanovic is live from Charleston at 7.00pm local time on Thursday (12.00am BST)
  • Stephens has won all three of their previous tour-level meetings
Sloane Stephens (PA Images)

Former Charleston champion Sloane Stephens looks to generate some much-needed momentum when she faces the in-form Ajla Tomljanovic for a place in the Volvo Car Open quarter-finals on Thursday.

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World No. 8 Sloane Stephens hasn’t been able to get going in 2019 - can she avoid another disappointing early exit when she clashes with Ajla Tomljanovic in the Charleston third round on Thursday night?

Yet to make a quarter-final this season and without back-to-back wins since the Australian Open in January, Stephens was in danger of another early elimination in her Charleston opener on Wednesday, scraping by Sara Sorribes Tormo in two tiebreaks, saving set point in the first set and squeaking out the second in almost-identical fashion to prevail. The match lasted two hours and 37 minutes, which could be the record for the longest straight sets contest when the season comes to an end, and was played in freezing conditions, with the court damp from a downpour of rain earlier in the day. It wasn’t a pretty match, but Stephens was happy just to come through it and live to fight another day.

"It was a tough day, and I was just happy to get through," Stephens said after the win. "Obviously a lot of different factors, but just happy with the fight and happy that I was able to get through.
"All in all the court was playing a little bit slow because it rained last night. It was a little sticky, and like I said, a lot of different factors, but I was happy to get through."

Stephens is now on a six-match winning streak in Charleston having won the title in her most recent appearance at the tournament, beating the likes of Daria Kasatkina, Angelique Kerber and Elena Vesnina to secure the silverware in 2016. The American would miss the next two editions because of injury, but she returns in 2019 as a Grand Slam champion and an established member of the top 10 courtesy of her stunning exploits over the last two seasons, including winning her maiden major title at the U.S. Open in 2017, claiming her first Premier Mandatory title in Miami last year and finishing runner-up at the French Open and season-ending WTA Finals Singapore.

However, consistency has never been one of Stephens’ strong suits, and she’s suffering from that at the moment. The 26-year-old hasn’t played well at all this season, losing in the opening round of Brisbane, the second round of Sydney, the fourth round of the Australian Open, the second round of Acapulco, her first match in Indian Wells and her second match in Miami, with the majority of those defeats coming to players ranked well below her in the rankings. I’ve got no doubt Stephens will turn it around at some stage and surge to another big title or final, but for now, it’s really anyone’s guess as to when that will happen! Maybe in Charleston this week?


Ajla Tomljanovic will prove a very tough opponent to overcome in the R16 on Thursday. Now representing Australian after previously flying the flag of her native Croatia, Tomljanovic was an immensely talented junior and was signed by IMG at the age of 12, but unfortunately multiple injury problems derailed the early stages of her career, most notably a shoulder injury that required surgery in 2016 and forced her onto the sidelines for over a year, while she also missed two months of action in 2017 due to a hip injury.

But when Tomljanovic finally managed to get her body right last season, she produced the best year of her career, registering a 36-24 record that included making two WTA finals in Rabat and Seoul, while she also made quarter-finals in Mallorca, Monterrey, Hiroshima and San Jose before finishing the year at No. 46 in the world. The 25-year-old began 2019 by making the Brisbane quarter-finals and soon after made her third WTA final in Hua Hin, where she was edged in a final set tiebreak by Dayana Yastremska, who had earlier taken a very controversial medical time-out when Tomljanovic was up a break and in control of the match, successfully shifting the momentum to her side of the court. Tomljanovic was visibly annoyed at her younger rival after that match, but she hasn’t let it bother her, claiming her first top 10 win since 2014 when she beat Aryna Sabalenka to make the third round of Miami, while she’s posted straight sets wins over Magda Linette and Tamara Zidansek to reach the R16 in Charleston this week.

Stephens has won all three of their previous tour-level meetings, dropping just eight games combined in their last two matches. However, Stephens isn’t playing well right now, while Tomljanovic is a much-improved player, noticeably more athletic and a better mover around the court, which adds a nice balance to her destructive power game from the baseline. I keep waiting for Stephens to turn it around, but she hasn’t been able to win back-to-back matches in her last three tournaments. If Tomljanovic plays her best tennis, the Australian could add to the American’s woes on Thursday night.


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Stephens vs Tomljanovic WTA Charleston live streaming, preview and tips - Stephens aiming for first quarter-final of 2019 against dangerous Tomljanovic

Former Charleston champion Sloane Stephens looks to generate some much-needed momentum when she faces the in-form Ajla Tomljanovic for a place in the Volvo Car Open quarter-finals on Thursday.

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