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US Open champion Stephens beaten in first match of 2018

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens of the United States returns a shot to Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus during the Fed Cup final match between Belarus and USA, in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)


SYDNEY -- U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens has lost her first match of the year, beaten by Italian qualifier Camila Giorgi at the Sydney International on Monday.

Stephens, who captured her first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows last year, was beaten 6-3, 6-0 at Sydney’s Olympic tennis center, leaving her short of match practice ahead of the Australian Open which starts in Melbourne next week.

No. 13-ranked Stephens has not won a match since her breakthrough victory over Madison Keys in the U.S. Open final.

The 24-year-old American took a two-month break from tennis after losing her last six matches in 2017 and is now on a seven-match losing streak.

Stephens’ exit from Sydney came just one day after French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko was upset 7-6 (3), 6-1 by Ekaterina Makarova on the opening day of the Sydney tournament.

In another first-round match Monday, former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova beat Anastasija Sevastova 6-3, 6-1.