Sloane Stephens has notched her first victories of the year in Toronto this week. (AP)
The American got injured a year ago while playing in Canada, and has now scored the first wins of her comeback at the Canadian tournament. She returned to the tour at Wimbledon this year.
“It’s been such a long process and a long road, so just the pleasure of being able to compete again,” she said.
The 24-year-old reached the semifinals at the 2014 Australian Open, upsetting Serena Williams before losing against eventual champion Victoria Azarenka. In 2016, she won Auckland, Acapulco and Charleston before she got hurt.
Stephens says she’s fresh following her long layoff.
“It’s kind of like I’m just starting my season and everyone else is, like, huffing and puffing. I feel good,” she said. “Obviously I haven’t played, so I’m really looking forward to getting on the court every time I step on the court and just happy to be out there.
“And not that the other girls aren’t happy, but they’ve already had a really long season, and it’s been tough for them,” she added. “So maybe that’s a little bit of an advantage.”
Another advantage, Stephens said, was that she practiced a lot and could improve her game.
“There were a lot of things I needed to improve. I was on a peg leg for, like, 15 weeks, so I couldn’t do anything,” Stephens said.
“I was walking on that stupid thing. And then when I first started actually hitting on the court again, like, I couldn’t run full on. I couldn’t do anything. … So I had a lot of time to work on a lot of stuff that I didn’t want to work on. I had time to improve—keep playing and you have really good results. But I had plenty of time to work on stuff.”
She will play Lucie Safarova in the quarterfinals.
—Citi Open Women’s Semis/Final: Catch up on all the action…