WHAT HAPPENED: If American tennis fans were looking for the next big contender in the women's game, they've certainly had their share of them at this year's US Open. And leading the way on Tuesday was Sloane Stephens, who overcame a break in the third set to pull off her third upset of a seed in the tournament, a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 dramatic win over No. 16 Anastasija Sevastova.
It was a sweet victory for the former No. 11, who is back in top form and into her first major semifinal after a year-long setback due to a foot injury that required surgery and rehabilitation for much of the season.
"I'm getting teary eyed, this is incredible," Stephens said during her post-match on-court interview. "When I started my comeback before Wimbledon, I could have never even dreamed of having these results in my home Slam, at my favorite tournament. It's indescribable."
In each of her victories thus far, Stephens has fed off the energy of the crowd when she needed it most, and her quarterfinal was no different. After splitting sets and enduring several shifts in momentum, both players had suddenly brought out their best tennis in the decisive third. Stephens and Sevastova traded two breaks of serve each before a tiebreak was reached. From then on, it was all a battle of wills.
"I told myself to keep fighting," Stephens said of her tiebreak strategy. "I've just been staying so calm on court all tournament, and I knew that if I stayed with it and kept fighting, I would have an opportunity."
Her strategy proved fruitful, as she inched her way to a 6-4 lead and fired a backhand down the line to seal the win.
Stephens vs. Sevastova
WHAT IT MEANS: With Venus Williams, CoCo Vandeweghe and Madison Keys yet to play their respective quarterfinal matches, the potential for a US Open women's semifinal featuring all Americans is still a possibility, and it's something Stephens is rooting for.
"I'm hoping we can make it four, how awesome would that be?" Stephens said. "I think this is amazing and hope there are four Americans in the semis. It definitely means we'll have a strong Fed Cup team."
Her advancement makes Stephens the eighth unseeded player to reach the semifinal stage at the US Open. She will await the winner of Tuesday night's match between No. 9 Venus Williams and No. 13 Petra Kvitova.
Stephens benefited from a tough road to the quarters that included wins over 2015 finalist Roberta Vinci, No. 11 Dominika Cibulkova and No. 30 Julia Goerges.
MATCH POINT: Stephens' firepower and mental toughness has played a key role in her post-injury comeback. Does she have the tools to take it one step further and win her first major here in New York?