Oudin: Slumping Stephens needs space
After suffering a 6-2, 6-0 loss to Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, Sloane Stephens says she's struggling to cope with increased attention since the Australian Open, and that it has contributed to her slump. The 20-year-old American is 2-5 since reaching the semifinals in Melbourne.
“Definitely, I was disappointed with the way I was playing and I was like, 'Oh my God, this is terrible,'” Stephens told reporters. “But I mean obviously I really love clay, so to get out and not be able to play so well is definitely disappointing. The last three months have definitely been super-overwhelming and definitely really, really tough. But I think once I find my rhythm and find what I want, like how I have to handle certain situations, like before trying to really get focused and things are just too overwhelming and I can't do it, I just have to refocus and try and do my best.”
Stephens’ friend, Melanie Oudin, reached the 2009 U.S. Open quarterfinals at the age of 17, but has been struggling for the past two years to stay in the Top 100. Oudin says she sympathizes with Stephens.
“I just told her I know exactly like how she feels,” Oudin said. "I mean her and I are the two, really, I guess kind of the same thing kind of happened and she told me, ‘I'm so glad that my Slam didn't happen in the States because it would have been like so crazy.’ She was glad it happened in Australia. But I think she'll be fine. She is also older than I was when it happened. And she was saying the other day that she was looking forward to going to Europe so that she was kind of [looking forward to] the American press corps wasn't following her around as much and she can kind of just operate under the radar.”