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Stephens shines after roof closes

 

By Eleanor Crooks

Defending champion Sloane Stephens reached the US Open fourth round last night, winning the last three games in a straight-sets victory over Victoria Azarenka after a brief break to close the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof.

Up a break in the final set, Stephens had slipped behind 4-3 when a light shower prompted officials to close the roof for the first time this week.

Both players had a chance to leave the court, and the break refreshed Stephens.

"I changed my dress and I was, like, 'All right, keep fighting, keep playing. That was pretty much it," she said.

"I won the next three games. I played some really good points those games. I was happy with that.

"I don't think it was so much the roof closing, but more just kind of refocusing," added Stephens, the third seed who is the highest ranked woman left in the field after early exits for World Nos.1 and 2 Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki.

Meanwhile, umpire Mohamed Lahyani went "beyond protocol" in trying to help Nick Kyrgios but will continue to officiate at the US Open, tournament organisers have announced.

With Kyrgios trailing Pierre-Hugues Herbert by a set and 3-0, and showing little effort, Lahyani took the unusual step of climbing down from his chair and having a lengthy chat with the Australian, during which he was heard to say: "I want to help you. You are great for tennis. I know this is not you."

Kyrgios subsequently turned the match around - winning 4-6 7-6 (8/6) 6-3 6-0 - to progress to the third round, and an annoyed Herbert said afterwards he felt Lahyani had overstepped the mark.

He was backed up by Roger Federer, Kyrgios' next opponent, as well as a number of current and former players.

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash called on Lahyani to resign.

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