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Hooked on the World Cup? Not early loser Stephens

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - Soccer is a hot topic in the Wimbledon locker rooms this year, but American Sloane Stephens's interest in the World Cup ended when friend Jozy Altidore was injured in her country's opening match.

Altidore tore a hamstring during the United States' defeat of Ghana, and though they still have a great chance of reaching the last 16, Stephens had other things on her mind after losing in the first round of the grasscourt grand slam.

"I wasn't," the 18th seed shot back when asked after losing to Maria Kirilenko whether she was glued to the TV the previous night watching the United States draw 2-2 with Portugal.

"Someone scored in the last three seconds and it wasn't the U.S., so that's what I do know.

"I watched the first game. My friend was playing. He got injured, so it was kinda like, who cares?"

Stephens's 6-2 7-6(6) defeat brought to an end a consistent run in the grand slams, in which she had reached at least the fourth round of the past six, including a quarter-final appearance at Wimbledon last year.

"The streak is broken," the 21-year-old said. "I'm so sorry to all of you who don't have to write about me this week and next week.

"Obviously there's nothing I can do. It feels like the end of the world now, but fortunately it's not. So that's a good thing."

Stephens said she would now try to recharge her batteries and prepare for the U.S. Open.

"It's nice to get a break," she said. "Unfortunately, my break is going to be a little bit longer than normal, but I'm going to have fun."

(Editing by David Goodman)

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