American Stephens loses in 3rd round at Wimbledon

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WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND (AP) - American teenager Sloane Stephens failed in her bid to reach the fourth round at a second straight Grand Slam tournament, losing in three sets to Sabine Lisicki of Germany at Wimbledon on Friday.

The 15th-seeded Lisicki, a semifinalist here last year, found some consistency on her groundstrokes as Stephens faltered in the final set to complete a 7-6 (5), 1-6, 6-2 victory.

The 19-year-old Stephens was playing in her first Wimbledon and looking to repeat her exploits from the French Open, where she reached the fourth round in her best run at a major.

After losing five straight points from 5-2 up in the first-set tiebreaker, she recovered to win five consecutive games in a dominant second set thanks to some clean, whipped winners from the back of the court. However, Lisicki coped better as the wind picked up late in the match.

“I definitely wasn’t overpowered by her,” said Stephens, who was playing in front of her mother on Court 3. “I was 5-2 up in the first-set tiebreaker. I didn’t win it and felt, `Wow, this is kind of ridiculous.’ Second set I played pretty well, played more aggressive but the third set got away from me.”

Stephens‘ performances in the slams over the past month hint at a bright future.

Although she has missed out on her main aim of 2012 _ making the U.S. team for the Olympics _ the daughter of former NFL player John Stephens has risen from No. 85 at the start of the year to a current ranking of No. 59, one place behind Venus Williams. She will be ahead of Venus by the time the new rankings come out after Wimbledon.

“At the beginning of the summer, I wanted so badly to make the Olympics I just couldn’t play tennis at all. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t do anything,” she said. “Then, I kind of realized that I should just work hard, do what I have to do and I will be fine. I was this close to making the Olympics but I’m still pleased with the way I’ve played and am playing now.”

Lisicki was impressed with what she saw from Stephens during Friday’s match.

“She’s a great, talented, young American girl,” Lisicki said. “It’s good to see someone coming up from the States after the Williams sisters. You know, we’ll see what happens within the next couple of years.”

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