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Sloane Stephens' ranking rises after Australian Open

Photo: Adam Davis/Icon SMI

Sloane Stephens will be the second ranked American woman behind Serena Williams.

Sloane Stephens didn't just achieve her best Grand Slam result by reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open - she's also one up on her good friend Sam Querrey.

Stephens and Querrey, who lost in the third round of men's singles, share a coach, David Nainkin. They've developed a good-natured rivalry about who's rising faster in the rankings.

With her run to the semifinals at Melbourne Park, Stephens will improve to No. 17 from No. 29 in the rankings next week, while Querrey is not expected to rise much higher than his current No. 22.

"Sam Querrey sent me a message and said, `You might be ahead of me on Monday, but in three weeks, I'm going to be ahead of you,''' the 19-year-old Stephens said after her straight-sets loss to No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals on Thursday. "I have to keep working because I want to stay in front of him.''

The Americans haven't made a wager over who will be ranked higher by the end of the year - there's just pride at stake, Stephens said.

"Obviously egos are big,'' she said earlier this week. "This is tennis, so somebody's going to win.''

Stephens was disappointed she didn't follow up her big win over 15-time major winner Serena Williams in the quarterfinals with a better match against Azarenka, but her overall performance at the tournament far exceeded her expectations at the start of the season.

"I'm obviously coming out of the Australian summer with amazing momentum, knowing I can pretty much hang in there with anybody and even beat some of the best players,'' she said. "It's definitely a good feeling.''

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