Sloane Stephens
Sloane Stephens, the defending US Open champion, was knocked out Tuesday night. In this picture, Stephens of the United States looks on during the women's singles quarter-final match against Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia on Day Nine of the 2018 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City, Sept. 4, 2018. Al Bello/Getty Images

The US Open continues to throw up surprises and Day 9 was no different as defending champion Sloane Stephens was knocked out by 19th seed Anastasija Sevastova in straight sets on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The number three seed had dropped just one set on her way to the quarter-finals and looked in good form to make it to the last four, but had no answer to the Latvian’s shot making and she went down 2-6, 3-6 in one hour and 24 minutes.

Stephens admitted after the game that she did not play the big points well and even indicated she was struggling with a sinus infection. The American also conceded that the better player won on the night, while commending Sevastova’s style of play compared to the other women’s players on the WTA Tour.

“When you don't play big points well, the match can get away from you. I think that's what happened today,” Stephens said after her loss Tuesday night. “I didn't convert. I didn't play the big points well, and you don't win matches when you don't take your opportunities. Mentally, physically, I just wasn't connecting. It just was a really tough day. The heat doesn't make it any more fun.”

"She's a great player. She plays a little bit different than most girls. She hits a lot of dropshots, she slices, she changes it up a little bit. It's always a difficult match, but I thought she played solid today. The better player won,” the 2017 champion added.

Sevastova, meanwhile, will be playing her first major semi-finals and she was probably more fired up after she lost to the same opponent at the same stage in 2017, while leading 3-1 in the third set. There was an outpouring of emotion from the Latvian as she had earlier in her career retired from tennis due to injuries and disillusionment from the sport.

“I think it was very physical today,” Sevastova said. “It was so hot here in the stadium. We showed some nerves in the end, but that’s normal — it’s for the semifinals of the US Open. I just stuck to my game plan and took my chances. I’m so happy.”

Meanwhile, six-time US Open champion Serena Williams, cruised into the semifinals with a dominating victory over number eight seed Karolina Pliskova. Williams missed last year’s tournament as she give birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian, who was born on September 1.

The American is playing in just her seventh event since making her return in March and has already impressed when she made the final at Wimbledon in July. Williams admits she has nothing to prove as at this time last year she was giving birth.

“I was having a baby at this time last year so I really have nothing to prove,” Williams said after her win. “I really feel now that I am playing free.”

In the men’s draw, Juan Martin del Potro booked his place in the semi-finals with a hard fought win over American John Isner and the Argentine will face either Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem, who at the time of writing were still on court with the game tied at two sets a piece.