Sloane Stephens gets text messages from grandpa


Sloane Stephens gets text messages from grandpa

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) One of the things Sloane Stephens likes about winning at the Australian Open is that her tech-savvy grandparents can keep watching her from back home.

``My grandpa texted me,'' the 19-year-old Stephens said. ``He said they stayed up again to watch me `on the machine' as my grandpa calls it.''

That's the computer.

Grandpa got to see Stephens advance Thursday to the third round, beating France's Kristina Mladenovic 6-4, 6-3. It's one of many reasons to be proud of her.

Stephens is the No. 3-ranked American woman and has climbed to a career high world ranking of No. 25. Her ascent has been quick after ending 2012 ranked 38th, which made her the youngest player inside the year-end top 50.

Last year, Stephens was one of the up-and-coming players to watch. She reached the third round at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and the fourth round at the French Open. She has achieved her best result in Melbourne after exiting in the second round at last year's Australian Open.

For Stephens, Thursday's match was personal.

She has played the 19 -year-old Mladenovic on big stages before, namely the semifinals of the 2009 French Open juniors tournament, where she lost.

Asked if she remembered that match, Stephens replied: ``How could I forget?''

``That match made my career. I was devastated,'' said Stephens, who is bubbly and charmingly confident. ``I cried for like a month after that.

``But if we had never played before, it would have been super difficult to get out there and play now, so I think that kind of helped.''

By her accounting, Stephens ``didn't play that great'' on Thursday. The 98th-ranked Mladenovic was hitting big serves and big forehands and Stephens had trouble finding her rhythm. She felt her mind wander but then she steered it back to the game.

When asked how she pulled herself out of tight spots, Stephens talked more about her mindset than her tennis.

``I think it's a mixture of things. Concentration, confidence, willing to run every ball down,'' she said. ``Today I was determined to get the next ball back.''

Staying focused leads to other rewards, she smiled.

Like a pair of Jimmy Choos.

Before coming to Melbourne, Stephens had promised herself: ``If I stay focused and concentrate, then I'll reward myself with Jimmy Choo shoes.''

How much will those shoes set her back?

``You don't want to know,'' she said with big eyes. ``It's like five meals. And I eat a lot.''

Stephens' next opponent is Laura Robson, a British teenager she has known since she was 12.

The 53rd-ranked Robson upset No. 8 Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-3, 11-9 in a 3-hour battle on center court that ended after midnight.

After the 18-year-old Robson politely thanked the crowd for staying to watch, she said she needed to check her phone.

``I think my mum is back home bombarding my phone with text messages,'' she said.


OH LA LA: Gael Monfils faced a room full of French journalists who had one probing question: ``How could you double fault 23 times?''

The Frenchman explained that he felt so tired during his match that he was desperately trying to keep points short.

``I wanted to finish with an ace, so I wouldn't have to play the point,'' he said.

Sometimes that worked. He served an impressive 29 aces.

Sometimes it didn't. Four of his double faults came in the last game as he served for the match. At one point, he stood on the service line laughing in disbelief.

Eventually, the 86th-ranked Monfils won the match to claim a spot in the third round, but it was painful.

``It's been a long time since I've felt that bad in a match,'' he said. ``I didn't feel well. I struggled physically. I was extremely tired.''

It took five sets and lasted 3 hours, 38 minutes before he overcame a valiant effort by Yen-hsun Lu of Tawian 7-6 (5), 4-6, 0-6, 6-1, 8-6.

The scorching heat on Thursday didn't help Monfils - it reached 106 degrees. But he didn't blame the weather.

Monfils entered his first Grand Slam since last year's Australian Open, and he had entered it questioning if he was fit enough because of knee injuries. The Frenchman's ranking slumped from 13th in February 2012 to 99th in January while he battled injuries and other setbacks last year.

Three other Frenchman advanced Thursday without much difficulty. Monfils faces one of them in the third round: No. 14-seed Gilles Simon.

Also, No. 7 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Japan's Go Soeda, 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-3, and No. 9 Richard Gasquet defeated Alejandro Falla of Columbia 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.


BURNING UP OUT THERE: James Duckworth said the court was so hot it felt like his feet were burning. He was sweating ``bucket loads.''

On the hottest day of this year's Australian Open at 106 degrees, the distinction of the longest match goes to Duckworth of Australia and Slovenia's Blaz Kavcic. Both struggled with cramps during the 4-hour, 52-minute match before Kavcic won 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (3), 10-8.

``We both just were hanging on for dear life,'' said Duckworth, who won a wildcard entry to the main draw and is ranked 209th.

The 94th-ranked Kavcic needed on-court treatment from a trainer during the fourth set tiebreaker for what appeared to be a cramp in his left thigh. He tweeted after the match he had a ``total physical collapse after the match.''

Duckworth saved five match points in the fifth set despite leg cramps that made his hamstring and quads ``lock up.''

During changeovers, he downed energy drinks and had some cola for caffeine, he ate bananas for energy and tried eating salt to ease his cramps.

After the match, he got on a bike at the gym.

``Thought I'd smash out a 10k time trial,'' he joked. ``No, just a light cool down.''

Quick Links

2019 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Who are the Redskins taking at 15?

USA Today Sports Images

2019 NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Who are the Redskins taking at 15?

As the calendar turns toward spring, one thing consumes the NFL: mock drafts. Leading up to the NFL Draft on April 25, many will try to predict which players each of the 32 teams will select. Though no one will know for sure until the names are called, it's still interesting to see what potential directions teams might go in.

Let's take a look at what some people believe the Redskins will do with their first round pick.

ESPN's Mel Kiper's NFL Mock Draft 2.0: Drew Lock (QB, Missouri) Kiper currently has Washington taking a quarterback in the first-round, but maybe not the one people were expecting. While Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins are viewed as first-round locks by many, the Missouri product's placement in the draft is not as certain. In this scenario, Kiper has Murray and Haskins off the board before Washington gets on the clock, making Lock the best available passer remaining. In his senior seaosn, Lock finished with 3,498 passing yards and 28 touchdowns.

CBS Sports' R.J. White: Devin White (ILB, LSU) Not a quarterback here. White has the Redskins using a pick on the junior linebacker. With questions surrounding what will happen with Zach Brown as well as pass-rushing linebacker Preston Smith, White could fill a need for the Redskins. 

CBS Sports' Ryan Wilson and Chris Trapasso: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) The Redskins take a passer in both of these mocks as well, just a different one. Jones, the junior from Duke, slides in at No. 15 behind both Murray and Haskins. However, Wilson also has Lock going before the Redskins pick, while Trapasso has him falling to No. 28. 

Bleacher Report's Kristopher Knox: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) More Jones here for the Redskins. The passer, who threw for 22 touchdowns in 2018, is the fourth quarterback off the board in this mock draft as Haskins, Murray and Lock all go in the top 10. 

USA Today's Luke Easterling: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) Starting to see a theme here? Not only does this mock draft have the Redskins selecting Jones, but it has them moving up to No. 12 to make the selection. Easterling describes Jones as, "a raw but promising passer." 

NFL Analyst Charley Casserly: Daniel Jones (QB, Duke) Describing him as a passer with "excellent field vision, anticipation and accuracy," Casserly likes Jones in Washington.

NBC Sports Washington's Ben Standig: Montez Sweat (DE, Mississippi St.) As mentioned earlier, Preston Smith's time with the burgundy and gold could be coming to an end. Sweat, who recorded 11.5 sacks last season, impressed at the Senior Bowl and could make an impact from Day 1. While many see the Redskins taking a quarterback, Standig sees inside linebacker as a priority


Quick Links

Manny Machado to the Padres is not a problem for one young Yankees fan

USA Today Sports Images

Manny Machado to the Padres is not a problem for one young Yankees fan

On Tuesday, reports broke that prized free agent Manny Machado would be signing a record-breaking contract with the San Diego Padres. With the last few months playing out like a never-ending soap opera between Machado and his potential suitors, it's no surprise the news created a lot of buzz and numerous reactions from all types of baseball fans.

One of the best came from a young New York Yankees fan, who learned of Machado's decision while in Florida to watch his team during Spring Training. SNY was on the scene to catch his live reaction, and from it we received a beautiful viral video.

Dissecting this video, there are two important aspects: the passion and the actual take.

Passion-wise, this kid gets a 10/10. Has he most likely used 27 rings to try and win an argument before? Probably. But, he delivered his monologue with a fire that will most likely earn him a spot on a sports talk show in the years to come. In the heat of the moment, you have to respect his ability to construct an argument in defense of his team.

As for the take, it has its flaws. It's a struggle to really defend the idea that you wouldn't want a once-in-a-generation type player just because he played on a team in your division, especially when that team floated around 50 wins last season.

I can sort of understand not wanting Mookie Betts considering he plays for their biggest rival, but even that sounds crazy when you really think about it. With the likes of Johnny Damon and Babe Ruth coming from Boston to New York, it's hard to fully support this argument.

The kid also concluded by saying it's like Tom Brady going to the Dolphins. At this point, I think Miami would be more than happy to take Brady off the Patriots' hands.

Yet whether you agree or disagree with what was said, we can all appreciate the passion this young man shows. Now we'd like to see his thoughts on Bryce Harper.