Sloane Stephens reacts after defeating Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
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Defending champion Sloane Stephens reached the fourth round of the U.S. Open Friday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka. Stephens, unseeded in her fairy-tale run to a first Grand Slam title here last year, is now at No. 3, the highest-ranked woman left in the draw after the exits of world No. 1 Simona Halep and number two Caroline Wozniacki in the first and second rounds.An early break gave Stephens breathing room in the opening set, and she put it away by breaking Azarenka at love in the ninth game.But the Belarussian's big shots stretched Stephens' vaunted defensive skills to the limit in a second set as Azarenka grabbed an early break for a 3-1 lead.
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