Anastasija Sevastova’s remarkable comeback story has taken her from retirement to the semi-finals of the US Open in less than four years.
Sevastova walked away from tennis in 2013 due to continuous struggles with injuries and illnesses but returned to the sport in 2015 and has been going from strength to strength ever since.
The 28-year-old, who made history on Tuesday, defeating Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-3 to become the first Latvian woman to reach the US Open semi-finals, showcased incredible shot variety against the American, and stood her ground when she needed to.
It was a rematch of their US Open quarter-final from last year and it was Sevastova’s third straight appearance in the final-eight in New York.
“I think it was third time lucky. But if I would lose I would also be proud of myself. Three times quarters. It’s not happening every year or every day,” said Sevastova after her triumph.
“Tough loss last year. But every loss you learn something, and I was okay if we would play three sets. Yeah. I was also thinking about that match at 4-1 in the second set, but it happened. I was still proud of this match. I think it was a great match last year, and now look what happened now?”
Sevastova retired from tennis when she was 23 but the two-year break she took from tennis is now looking like a blessing in disguise. She has won two titles since her return, in Mallorca in 2017 and Bucharest this season, and hit a career-high ranking of 15 11 months ago.
She’s now one win away from being a Grand Slam finalist.
Anastasija Sevastova defeats Stephens 6-2, 6-3 to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal!
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 4, 2018
“I’m relieved that the match is over in this heat. Yeah, how do you feel? You feel happy. I think you need some time then to look, to look at this journey. It was an amazing journey, this three, four years,” said Sevastova.
“Right now you’re so in, you’re in the tournament, you’re playing next tournament next week, and you don’t feel it, you know. You think, oh, but in the end it’s amazing, yeah? You can’t believe, yeah. So after I stop at some point I will look at it and I will be proud of myself, for sure.”
Asked what kind of goals she set for herself when she decided to return to tennis, Sevastova said: “I had done not many goals. Maybe top 100. I was thinking, okay, maybe a couple of years, play top 100. Enjoy the game.
“But now, obviously when you win more, you have higher goals. And when you’re, like, winning a tournament, you think that’s normal. I can win it maybe next week again.
“But you have to appreciate it more, I think. You have to see that what you’re doing, it’s like a privilege here, yeah. So try to keep it low and try to, yeah, enjoy it.”
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