"It's a different type of pressure" - Stephens on upsetting good friend Gauff at US Open

Sloane Stephens has not had an easy path through the 2021 US Open, as the former champion has had to battle two close friends to reach the third round in New York.

After defeating close friend Madison Keys in the first round, the 2017 champion faced teenager Coco Gauff in the second. The pair have known each other for years, with the former even attending the latter's 10th birthday party a few years ago. Regardless, Stephens was able to pull off the upset, stunning the 21st-seeded Gauff in straight sets to advance to the third round.

"I've had to battle two good friends," Stephens said. "I think the pressure is a little bit different when you play two people that you know well. It's a different type of pressure. Obviously playing here at the US Open and playing Americans, it's very different.

"But I'm really happy with the two wins. I played good tennis to get them. I mean, it's still only the third round of a Slam so I have to keep going. But it's nice to know that I was able to get those two wins with all the pressure and outer things happening."

Despite not hitting any aces, Stephens was able to remain unbroken in her match against Gauff. The World No.66 was able to achieve this by maintaining a high first serve percentage, coupled with precise placement that allowed her to be aggressive and dictate play.

"I knew I wanted to place a lot of first serves and get myself started early in the points," added Stephens. "Serving that high percentage for me is always really key just because I can get into the points and I can start off aggressive with me dictating play, which is what I want to do. That was just part of it. But happy and very pleased with that stat."

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