ADELAIDE, Australia - Australian qualifier Arina Rodionova sprung an emphatic upset on Tuesday at the Adelaide International with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over former US Open champion Sloane Stephens.
Ranked World No.201, Rodionova earned her third victory over the week at the Premier-level event, having beaten Carla Suárez Navarro and Anastasia Potapova in a pair of three-setters to earn her spot in the main draw.
The Aussie, assured of a wildcard into next week's Australian Open after winning the home country's wildcard playoff in December, never trailed over the course of the 71-minute clash, as she set the tone by breaking the former World No.3 in the first game of each set.
"This is my third big win of the week, so I'm not counting anymore. Hopefully I only manage to continue," a beaming Rodionova told reporters after the match.
"It's always great to get such amazing wins against the top players. So, I feel pretty good about myself right now."
The 31-year-old ultimately broke Stephens twice in each set, and won seven straight games in the middle of the match from 3-2 in the first set to build a lead of 6-2, 4-0 and take command.
"I think this surface also suits me. I just feel good playing. As I said, once you get a few matches under your belt, you get confident. Sometimes the first round might be a little bit shaky," she continued.
"Today I think that's what happened with Sloane. It was first match for her and third one for me, so I felt a bit more kind of being used to the conditions more compared to her. I think it really helped.
"I was pretty relaxed today. I feel like from winning those two really tough matches in qualifying, I feel like I deserve to be in main draw. I beat good players, and I feel like I earned my spot there. I had no pressure."
Rodionova saved the lone break point she faced in the match, which came in her first service game of the second set, to score just the third win over a player ranked in the Top 50 in her career.
"[If] she plays great, she beats me Love and 1, that's okay, because I tried," Rodionova said. "My goal was really to fight for every point and do what I can, and today it was enough to win.
"I wasn't really worried too much about result. Win or lose, it's great opportunity, and it's great experience to play on center court. The crowd is amazing, and it's just very enjoyable."
The qualifier advances to a second round clash with either 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova, the No.8 seed who is playing her first tournament following wrist surgery after Wimbledon, or lucky loser Tatjana Maria.