WASHINGTON DC, USA - Rebecca Peterson scored the biggest win of her career in emphatic style at the Citi Open, knocking out former champion Sloane Stephens in the first round.
The top seeded Stephens had lifted the trophy here in 2015 - and since went on to claim the US Open title in 2017. But she never found her rhythm against Peterson, who needed two sets to complete the 6-1, 7-5 stunner.
“I’m just really happy with the win and the way I just stick to every point, fought for every point that was out there,” Peterson told wtatennis.com after the match.
“I was not thinking too far ahead or back - I was just staying in the moment and trying my best in every point.”
Peterson got off to a strong start, keeping apace with the former US Open champ as the players got a feel for each other’s game - and adapted to the brutally hot and humid Washington DC conditions.
But it was Stephens that blinked first, let three break chances slip away from her at 2-3, and the Swede quickly took advantage of the lapse to rally back and strike a game later to gain a 4-2 lead. Another break left the American reeling, and Peterson closed out the first set with confidence, 6-2.
Stephens was eager to turn things around in the second set, where she started with an early break at 1-0. She dodged a break-back attempt as Peterson earned three break chances in the next game, and Stephens consolidated her lead to 2-0.
But Peterson refused to wilt away, and kept the American’s serve under pressure until she finally earned the break to make it 4-4. Stephens restored her lead a game later, making it 5-4 and sitting two points away from taking it to a third set - but Peterson once again rallied back to level the score. She backed up a confident hold to love with a final break, converting her third match point to seal her spot in the second round.
The victory is extra sweet as its Peterson’s first career Top 10 win, and it brings the Swede’s record against Top 20 players to 1-8. Five of those Top 20 losses have come this year, with Peterson falling to Serena Williams twice, Anett Kontaveit, Angelique Kerber and Belinda Bencic.
“It feels great,” Peterson said of the major milestone. “I’m really happy with the way I performed today, but it was also quite tough. It’s the first tournament since Wimbledon, so I knew I just had to be really focused and play my game.
“I’ve had some really tough losses this year against a lot of good players, so I’m really happy I got this win.”
Up next, Peterson awaits the winner between American qualifier Sachia Vickery and Camila Giorgi in the second round.
“Both of them are great players, great competitors,” she said. “It’s going to be a tough match for sure. I’m looking forward to it.”