Stephens tops Robson in matchup of rising teens


Stephens tops Robson in matchup of rising teens

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Tennis rivals don't normally get messages from their opponent's mother wishing them well in the next round. Particularly after a defeat.

Moments after American Sloane Stephens beat fellow teenager Laura Robson of Britain 7-5, 6-3 in a third-round match at the Australian Open on Saturday, she received a text.

``She was like, `Great job, good fight.' And she said, `Cathy says great job and good luck in the next round,'' Stephens said of the message her mother relayed from Robson's mother, Cathy.

Stephens, 19, and Robson, 18, are two of the most promising young talents on the women's tour, and the match between them felt like a glimpse of future Grand Slam encounters - perhaps a bit later than the third round.

They also just happen to be friends - and their mothers are friends, too.

``We're turning into the Fed-Nadal rivalry,'' Stephens said, jokingly.

She did think they'll get a larger venue than Court 2 next time. ``I don't think we'll play that court ever again.''

There are certainly enough similarities between the players to suggest a rivalry could be in the making.

Both are close in age - Stephens is nine months older than Robson, whose 19th birthday is on Monday.

Both are coming off breakthrough years. Stephens reached the fourth round at the French Open and rose to No. 38 in the rankings by the end of 2012, becoming the only teenager in the top 50. And Robson defeated two former Grand Slam champions - Kim Clijsters and Li Na - to reach the fourth round at the U.S. Open and rise to 53rd in the rankings by the end of the year.

And both are being touted as future stars in their respective countries - Stephens as a future replacement for the Williams sisters at the top of the game and Robson as the next hope for British tennis on the women's side, which hasn't seen a Grand Slam champion since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.

Such was the interest in their match that Stephens bumped former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who won her third-round match around the same time Saturday, out of the schedule for the main interview room at Melbourne Park after both of them came off the court. Two long-established British news organizations also live-blogged the match on their websites for all the Robson fans back in Britain.

The match itself, however, nearly didn't live up the billing. Stephens broke Robson twice to race out to a 4-0 lead in the first set before Robson, troubled by a sore shoulder, called for a medical timeout to have treatment.

Robson picked up her game after the break. Cheered on by the highly partisan crowd - Robson was born in Melbourne before moving to Britain - she began hitting shots deep into the corners and forcing errors from Stephens, leveling the score at 4-4.

Robson would be undone by her own errors, though. Stephens broke her at 6-5 to capture the first set and then again in the fourth game of the second set to close out the match.

Robson had 47 unforced errors overall, along with just 11 winners.

``I felt something in my shoulder yesterday, but we still don't know what it is because I haven't had time to see the doctor or anything yet,'' said a subdued Robson, who had upset 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in a three-hour match on Thursday.

``But these things happen, and you just have to play through the pain sometimes. I thought Sloane played really well today.''

Stephens, who next plays Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski for a spot in the quarterfinals, was equally complimentary of Robson afterward - and not just about her tennis.

``She's an awesome girl. She's pretty. I mean, what more do you want?'' she said. ``She's obviously a good player. We're going to have a rivalry, all that good stuff.''

So far, Stephens has the upper hand. She's now 2-0 against Robson after beating her last week in a tournament in Hobart, too.

But Robson believes there will be plenty of chances for revenge.

``We've played each other twice in two weeks, so I can see it happening again at some point,'' she said. ``I'm sure I'll play Sloane a lot in the future.''

Quick Links

NBA trade market is reportedly 'very sluggish' as deadline nears

NBA trade market is reportedly 'very sluggish' as deadline nears

We are eight days away from the NBA trade deadline, and as plenty of intriguing players, including Wizards forward Davis Bertans, figure to garner plenty of interest around the league, we may not see that many moves. 

At least, that's what Adrian Wojnarowski talked about on ESPN Tuesday night. 

"The one thing you're not hearing among conversation right now, are not many front-line, significant players [are] on the move," Wojnarowski said. "That may change next week, but right now it's a very sluggish, slow trade deadline market right now."

The summer of 2019 saw an unprecedented amount of player movement in free agency. Not only did that completely change the landscape of the NBA, but it dried up almost every team's cap space for the summer of 2020. 

Since this year's free-agent market won't include the star power and teams won't have the same ability to make impactful changes to their roster, you'd think the trade market would be buzzing. Especially in a year where the path to the NBA Finals hasn't been this wide open in years. 

"I had one team tell me today that [they have] gotten fewer calls and made fewer calls than at any time in recent years around the trade deadline," he said. "And this is a team that's usually pretty active."

This goes in line with a recent report that suggested all inquiries to the Wizards regarding Bertans have gone nowhere. It's common for teams to wait as long as possible up until the deadline in order to get the most value possible for their assets. If the Wizards aren't alone in shutting most trade talks down, that would explain what Woj is hearing. 

But it's important to note that things can change quickly. Wojnarowski explained how on Super Bowl Sunday it's generally quiet around the league. Then when everyone re-groups on Monday, conversations typically start to take off. 

All it takes is one trade to set the market. The Rockets are reportedly looking to unload future draft picks to upgrade their roster, so maybe it'll be them. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.


DeMatha basketball to honor late coach Morgan Wootten with jersey patches for next two seasons

DeMatha basketball to honor late coach Morgan Wootten with jersey patches for next two seasons

When it was announced that long-time DeMatha coach Morgan Wootten had died last week, the school and the high school athletics community as a whole lost a legend. However, DeMatha is now doing its part to make sure his legacy continues on.

The basketball teams will wear an "MW" patch on their jerseys through the next two seasons to honor the coach, DeMatha head coach Mike Jones announced Tuesday on Twitter.

As Jones says, Wootten is viewed as a "Godfather of Basketball". During his six decades at DeMatha, Wootten totaled over 1,200 wins and led the team to 33 WCAC Championships. His success helped turn DeMatha into the powerhouse school it is today.

As DeMatha continues on, the legendary coach will remain with them, and the patch helps demonstrate his importance to the school and the game of basketball.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.