In the ASB Tennis Classic on Wednesday, Rebeka Masarova defeated Sloane Stephens 6-3, 7-5 (5) despite persistent rain causing a backlog of singles matches.
As a result, the first round of singles had to be played indoors without spectators. Stephens struggled to adjust to the indoor setting and lost in just under two hours to the 130th ranked Masarova on a day that would be notable for the number of American players in action.
Play was suspended late Tuesday night; Masarova led 2-1 on serve when play was suspended. She immediately broke Stephens for 3-1 and won the first set 6-3 in 41 minutes.
In the second set, Masarova led 2-0, but Stephens broke in the fourth game to tie at 2-2 and again in the sixth game to win 4-2 for her team.
Nevertheless, Masarova broke in the ninth game and nearly broke again in the 11th game, when Stephens was able to save three break points at 0-40. To win her first match against a top-50 player since 2016, Masarova went ahead 6-2 in the tiebreaker and sealed the match on her fourth match point.
“I played some good points,” Stephens said. “I thought I played well at times.”
I wish I had played better and done some things differently, but I’m not devastated. It’s the first tournament of the year, so I just have to be realistic and know that there’s more to learn.”
To prepare for the Australian Open that begins in Melbourne on Jan. 16, Stephens hopes to play in Hobart, Australia next week.