‘I Was About to Smack Her With My Racket’ – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Revisits Her Ugly Spat With Sloane Stephens

Published 03/31/2022, 2:35 AM EDT

There have been many fierce tennis rivalries over the years. From Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras to Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, the sport took another dimension when these players were up against each other. Recently, 2021 French Open runner-up, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, opened up on her heated encounter with Sloane Stephens.

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Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova talks about her fight with Sloane Stephens

It was the 2018 China Open in Beijing. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was up against the ninth seed, Sloane Stephens, in the first round. The match will be remembered for all the wrong reasons as the two got involved in an ugly spat during the second set.

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Talking about the incident, Pavlyuchenkova said, “I think it was with Sloane Stephens in Beijing. I won the first set 7-6, we had been playing for over an hour. Then she was winning the second set 5-2. I had a bad shoulder at that moment. I called the physio when the score was 5-2, then I won two games in a row and then the score became 5-4.”

Tennis – French Open – Roland Garros, Paris, France – June 12, 2021 Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova reacts during her final match against Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

Further, she added, “She walked up to the umpire and sarcastically yelled, ‘So, the physio cured her? Don’t you see she has an injury?’ Sarcastically saying that I faked an injury, and pretended that the physiotherapy helped. Loudly going on and on about it for 10 minutes. I felt like a boiling teapot, thinking, ‘What the f**k are you talking about? Get over here!’ In the rest of the second set, I tried but I couldn’t even finish another game, and lost 6-4.”

Disapproving Sloane’s actions, she said, “I went to her side and started yelling. The umpire came down and tried to break us up. I was about to smack her with my racket. Yes, I was really at my limit. Many people never see this side of me, but I can be very aggressive.”

The action continued during the deciding set

It wasn’t the end of it as both players tried to be aggressive during the third set. Further, Pavlyuchenkova went on to add, “During the third set, I planned to intentionally smash a powerful overhead into her stomach. Yeah, it didn’t work out. We have these cat fights, you know. She very clearly called me a ‘f***ing bitch’, it was all over the internet. I hated her so much after that!”

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – September 15, 2020 Sloane Stephens of the U.S. during her first round match against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza Pool via REUTERS/Riccardo Antimiani

However, all’s well that ends well. The two players shook hands after the match and had a brief discussion about the incident. Further, Pavlyuchenkova went on to add, “Some time later, we both were at an ATP Player Council meeting, and we suddenly got along very well, it was the opposite situation. It’s better like that.”

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It was a moment to forget for both the players who were on the rise in women’s singles.

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WATCH THIS STORY: Top Racket Smashes at the Australian Open

Although Sloane Stephens won that match, Pavlyuchenkova came back strongly to prevail over Stephens at the 2019 Australian Open.

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Vatsal Shah

1323 articles

Vatsal Shah is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. With a Bachelor's degree in engineering, he is a die hard fan of tennis and sports in general. He is an ardent follower of Rafael Nadal and is inspired by his never-say-die attitude.

Edited By: Niranjan Deodhar

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