MELBOURNE, Australia — Sloane Stephens has lost her eighth consecutive match since her Grand Slam breakthrough title at last year’s U.S. Open.
Stephens was serving for the match in the second set against Zhang Shuai in the first round at the Australian Open on Monday but lost 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2.
It was a tough first-rounder for Stephens — Zhang is ranked 34th and just outside the top 32 that would have seen the Chinese player seeded for the tournament.
Stephens didn’t play last year’s Australian Open because of a left foot injury that kept her out of action until Wimbledon. After her U.S. Open final win over fellow American Madison Keys, she lost her next six matches — four at tournaments in China and twice in the Fed Cup final — then opened the year with a first-round loss at last week’s Sydney International.