The Universal Tennis Rating system (UTR) takes five or six matches to gather enough data points to accurately estimate a player’s current level. Sloane Stephens has now played five matches in 2020, and the early numbers don’t look good. According to their metrics, the 2017 US Open champion is the 136th best player in the world right now.
Confidence is everything in tennis, and it appears Stephens has little of it. She earned her very first win of 2020 in march on Tuesday, when she snuck past 18-year-old Emma Navarro, 6-4, 5-7, 6-1. Navarro, currently ranked No. 497 in the world with a trending UTR of 449, is a talented player and certainly on the rise, but has no business even taking a set from Stephens at this point in her young career.
Stephens will try her luck against another teenager on Wednesday night, last week's surprise Acapulco finalist, Leylah Fernandez. The 17-year-old Canadian advanced through qualifying, ultimately falling to Heather Watson in a mini-marathon, 6-4, 6-7 (8), 6-1. Fernandez showed poise well beyond her years in Acapulco, combining a stoic demeanor on the court with plenty of game.
Despite having played eight matches in 12 days, Fernandez is both the UTR and oddsmaker’s pick to defeat Stephens. It's a reflection of how things are going for both players. But things can turn on a dime in tennis, as Stephens well knows. But until she strings a series of wins together, Fernandez is the rightful favorite to win this match.