MELBOURNE — Sloane Stephens hasn’t won a match in the seven she’s played since winning her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open last September. Nevertheless, the 24-year-old is dismissing that fact as inconsequential as she approaches the start of the Australian Open.
“I think you have to kind of put everything in perspective, evaluate where you are,” Stephens said. “I think personally I had a lot of things going on. It’s a new year, new season. I’m hoping not to get injured. There’s tons of things to look forward to. I’m not going to dwell too much on that (the losses).”
Following her triumphant U.S. Open, Stephens spent the remainder of 2017 dealing with a knee injury, and lost all six matches played during the remainder of the season, including two at the Fed Cup final. Despite Stephens’ lacking performance the U.S. increased their Fed Cup winning record to 18 titles with their 3-2 win over Belarus in Minsk.
The highlight of the 13th-seeded Stephen’s autumn came off the court when she graduated with a degree in communications from Indiana University East through a discounted online program arranged with the school by the WTA.
“Everyone in my family has a degree. My mom has her doctorate,” Stephens said. “My brother is in college. I have to graduate before him because I’m better than him. I have to prove to him that I’m smarter in everything.”
While Stephens speaks of hope heading into the new year, she didn’t start 2018 on a high note. She lost her first match 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 to the seemingly rejuvenated Angelique Kerber of Germany, the 2016 Australian Open champion, at the Sydney tournament earlier this week.
Stephens’ rise to Grand Slam champion status played out like a…