Despite loss, Riske will be rewarded

MELBOURNE, Australia -- After her third consecutive third-round berth or better in a Grand Slam tournament, 23-year-old American Alison Riske is sure to break the top 50 in the new WTA rankings. But she joked Friday after her elimination from the Australian Open that she would still be seeking out a dark room and her favorite candy to recover.

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Alison Riske's third-round loss left Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens as the only Americans still alive in the Australian Open women's draw.

A 6-3, 6-4 loss to No. 9 seed Angelique Kerber could have swung the other way if not for a few crucial missed chances, but Riske, who had not dropped a set and lost just six games in her first two matches here, preferred to look on the bright side.

"It was definitely a positive week for me," Riske said. "Obviously, I always want more from it, but it was huge, and to be in the third round of a Grand Slam for three Grand Slams in a row is pretty good for someone who was not really even qualifying, so this is really positive."

Serena Williams, who defeated Daniela Hantuchova in straight sets Friday, and Sloane Stephens are the only American women left in the draw after the losses of Riske and 68th-ranked 20-year-old Lauren Davis, defeated 6-2, 6-2 by 30th-ranked Eugenie Bouchard.

Riske lamented the big points in her match, specifically Kerber's cross-court forehand on break point to win the first set, and Riske's double-fault in the final game, which set up three match points.

"It was really frustrating because I felt like I did have some opportunities there that I didn't really take advantage of, so for me, that's the hardest thing about the whole match," Riske said. "But then again, she was extremely tough and didn't really miss the ball. It was just a tough match."

Still, for Riske, who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon last year after upsetting former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, getting into the top 50 is significant.

"It's a huge accomplishment and I'm definitely proud to be able to say I've made it," she said. "It's kind of cool, too, how it has all unfolded the last few tournaments."

She admitted she didn't always think it would happen.

"Definitely in the first year, even in the first two years, when I was [ranked] about 104th and thought I'd crack the top 100 and ended up falling back," she said. "It's just a huge roller coaster and you never know what you're going to get. But I stuck through it and I'm top 50 now, so it's pretty cool."

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