Naomi Broady was unable to progress past the quarter-finals at the WTA International ASB Classic in Auckland earlier this morning after her excellent run was halted by fifth seeded America Sloane Stephens, who win in straight sets, 7-6(6) 6-3.
The Brit, who had already played three matches in qualifying before beating former world number one Ana Ivanovic in the first round, came through a gruelling and controversial second round match against Latvian Jelena Ostapenko to set up the clash with Stephens, but after an exceptional run, the American proved to be a step too far.
A shame, really, because Broady had real chances to win the first set, having had a set point on the American’s service game and again in the tight tiebreak. But therein lies the difference between the ever-improving Broady and the bigger, more established names on the tour – the ability to get oneself out of trouble and counter. Stephens did exactly that and took the tiebreak to 6, and arguably with the set went all hopes that Broady would win the match.
The second set was more routine, with the American solid on serve and needing just the one break to secure the match. The key statistics: Broady only served three aces today, well behind that stat in all of her previous matches here, and was unable to convert five games throughout.
One thing is for sure though: the way Naomi has played this week has demonstrated to everyone that she belongs at this level, and with a host of rankings point under her belt, it probably won’t be long until she joins Heather Watson and Johanna Konta in the upper echelons of the WTA Tour for good.