Sloane Stephens is into the third straight semifinal of her incredible comeback after nearly a year off following a foot surgery. WTA Insider investigates the data behind the young American's return to form ahead of her second Grand Slam semi.
WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen
September 5, 2017

NEW YORK, NY, USA - Sloane Stephens is set to leap over 900 spots in the WTA rankings after backing up her phenomenal summer comeback with a run to her first US Open semifinal. After 10 months away from the tour and undergoing foot surgery at the beginning of the season, Sloane Stephens' return has been more than anyone could have hoped for. The 24-year-old played her first tournament since the Rio Olympics at Wimbledon two months ago, and she has been near-unstoppable on the hard courts ever since.

Stephens began her hardcourt comeback at the Citi Open, carrying a ranking that had fallen to No.957. By advancing to her first major semifinal since the 2013 Australian Open, Stephens is projected to rise inside the Top 35 on Monday, an astounding jump of over 920 spots. By way of comparison, the other biggest rankings jumps during this same time period are by Ashleigh Barty (+15), Camila Giorgi (+12), and Magda Linette (+11). 

If she advances to the Saturday's final, Stephens will move up to No.22 and if she wins the title she could be ranked as high as No.15. Stephens will play either Venus Williams or Petra Kvitova in the semifinals.

"When I couldn't play, I literally couldn't even go on the court, stand, and hit a ball. I think that now that I'm, like, running around and, like, sweating, my ponytail is flying, these are all such great things. I think I'm just happy to be running around and competing again."
Sloane Stephens

Stephens lost the first two matches of her comeback to Alison Riske at Wimbledon and Halep in D.C. After the loss to Halep, Stephens was encouraged by her ability to force the World No.2 into an opening set tiebreak. "I don't know exactly how long it's going to take me, but eventually I will beat someone," Stephens said after the loss.

The turnaround was immediate and remarkable. Stephens isn't just winning. She's beating some of the game's best and most in-form players.

Stephens is now 13-2 since then and is undefeated against players currently ranked inside the Top 5. She is one of just two women who made back-to-back semifinals at the tour's biggest summer events in Toronto (l. Wozniacki), Cincinnati (l. Halep), notching wins over Petra Kvitova, Angelique Kerber, Lucie Safarova, and Ekaterina Makarova.

Sloane Stephens, US Open, comeback

At the US Open, her third straight semifinal, she has battled through a tough draw to defeat Roberta Vinci, Dominika Cibulkova, Ashleigh Barty, Julia Goerges, and Anastasija Sevastova. With her win over No.16 Sevastova, she improved her record against Top 20 players this season to 5-3 and is now 7-0 in three-set matches this season.

Stephens tallied three titles in 2016 before succumbing to injury, winning Auckland (d. Goerges), Acapulco (d. Cibulkova) and Charleston (d. Vesnina). By the time the summer rolled around she, wins grew few and far between as pain began to creep into her foot.

She finished her 2016 season after the Rio Olympics, having lost her last three matches of the season in D.C. (l. Ozaki), Montreal (l. Giorgi) and the Olympics (l. Bouchard). She finished 2016 ranked No.36 and despite being sidelined for a majority of the 2017 season, she is set to have an even better finish than 2017.