After her career-best run to the Australian Open semifinals in January, and before her second-week appearances at the French Open in June and at Wimbledon — where the 17th-seeded Stephens reached the quarterfinals with a three-set victory Monday — she went through quite a rough patch: a four-month stretch in which she failed to win more than two consecutive matches at any tournament.
‘‘It was a bad time,’’ Stephens said.
How did she turn it around?
‘‘Just knowing that I am a good tennis player. I'm top-20 in the world for a reason. I didn't, like, all of a sudden, snap my fingers and I got good,’’ Stephens said. ‘‘I put in a lot of work. [It] took a lot of sweat [and], like, ‘bad hair’ days, all that other stuff, to get to where I was. I realize that I just couldn’t let that go to waste. I had to get back to work.’’At Roland Garros last month, the 20-year-old Stephens reached the fourth round before losing to 2012 champion Maria Sharapova. At Wimbledon on Tuesday, Stephens will take on 15th-seeded Marion Bartoli, the 2007 runner-up, with a chance to reach her second major semifinal of the year — and of her nascent career. Playing at Wimbledon for the second time, Stephens got through Monday by beating 19-year-old Monica Puig, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Stephens’s next opponent, Bartoli, is 28, owns seven career titles, and will be appearing in her sixth major quarterfinal overall, third at Wimbledon. Bartoli was a 6-2, 6-3 winner against 104th-ranked Karin Knapp, 6-2, 6-3.
Bartoli lost to Venus Williams in the 2007 final at the All England Club. Two years before that, Stephens recalls tuning in on TV for what she called an ‘‘epic final’’ at Wimbledon, when Williams beat Lindsay Davenport, 9-7, in the third set.
Robson stumblesLaura Robson toed the baseline, then began her serving motion. The ball landed 5 feet behind the line. Moments later, she bounced her second serve into the net.
Those were the ugliest of the ugly for the British 19-year-old and they couldn’t have come at a worse time. The double fault turned what had been a 5-2 lead in the first-set tiebreaker into a 5-all tie.
Four points later, Kaia Kanepi had won that tiebreaker, and about 45 minutes after that, Robson was heading off the court, nearly in tears.
Robson failed in her quest to become the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon quarterfinals since Jo Durie in 1984, falling, 7-6 (8-6), 7-5, in a jittery, error-filled match against an opponent who has been in these spots before.
‘‘I was putting a lot of pressure on myself,’’ Robson said. ‘‘At the end of the first set, I had my chances. I served for it. In the tiebreak, as well. At that point, I was just trying to will myself to play unbelievable tennis when, you know, just making a serve would have been fine.’’
Robson has the eyes of her nation upon her — though she’s hardly in the same fishbowl as Andy Murray. In trying to end a 77-year British drought for the men, Murray advanced to the quarterfinals for the sixth consecutive year by beating 20th-seeded Mikhail Youzhny, 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.
She insists she tries to tune it out. But, she concedes, this trip to the round of 16 felt much different than last year’s trip to the same spot at the US Open.
Robson finished with 24 unforced errors versus only 27 winners, as she had trouble harnessing the forehand that has served her well over the past year, during which she has vaulted from the 120s to 38th in the rankings.
She’s the one they came to watch on Court 1 on Monday. But as she collected her gear and made her way toward the exit to the extended applause, she kept her eyes straight ahead and didn’t even offer a wave.
‘‘Because I lost,’’ she said, ‘‘and I was just trying not to cry.’’