Sloane Stephens advances to French Open quarters

Leave a comment

PARIS — Sloane Stephens has no other Grand Slam winners – or even finalists – left in her side of the draw at the French Open after beating 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-3 on Sunday.

The seventh-seeded American clinched victory on her fifth match point, setting up an intriguing quarterfinal against Johanna Konta of Britain – herself through to the final eight at Roland Garros for the first time.

The path to a second straight French Open final, and a third overall at a major after her title at the U.S. Open in 2017, would seem to be clearing up for Stephens.

If she beats the 26th-seeded Konta, then her semifinal opponent will be either 31st-seeded Petra Martic of Croatia or unseeded 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova, a left-hander from the Czech Republic. Both are playing in the last eight of a major for the first time.

But Konta does have big-match experience, having reached Grand Slam semifinals at the Australian Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2017.

She also has a 2-0 record against Stephens.

Both those matches were played this year: last month in the rain in Rome, the other on Australian hard courts in Brisbane.

“I lost to her in Rome. Really tough day,” Stephens said. “Bad circumstances. Out of the mind. So I’m just going to go in with a clean slate.”

The straight-sets defeat in Brisbane was Stephens’ first match of the year and she admittedly was not well prepared.

“I had a lot of stuff going on at the beginning of the year,” she said. “I think everybody knows I needed a coach. I was kind of all over the place.”

Stephens was runner-up at Roland Garros last year to Simona Halep.

The third-seeded Romanian is still in the draw.

“We have a long way to go until we get there,” said Stephens, who may face another American.

There are three remaining, in the other side of the draw: 14th-seeded Madison Keys, 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, and 20-year-old Sofia Kenin – who knocked out 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams on Saturday.

Kvitova to decide this week whether to play at Wimbledon

AP Photo
Leave a comment

PRAGUE — Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova says she will decide later this week if she’s ready to play at the All England Club.

The 29-year-old Czech player injured her left forearm during training in Paris ahead of the French Open and has not played since. The injury prevented her from defending her title at the Birmingham Classic this week.

Kvitova wrote on Twitter that she was “Happy to tell you that my arm is improving and I just hit some balls on the beautiful grass for the first time.

The sixth-ranked Kvitova, who won the Wimbledon title in 2011 and 2014, reached the Australian Open final and won tournaments in Sydney and Stuttgart this year.

Anna Tatishvili appeals $50,000 French Open fine

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON — American tennis player Anna Tatishvili has appealed her fine of about $50,000 for what the Grand Slam Board ruled was a violation of its first-round performance rule at the French Open last month.

Tatishvili was docked a first-round loser’s full prize money after losing to 29th-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-0, 6-1 in Paris.

It was Tatishvili’s first competition since October 2017 because of an ankle injury. She has been ranked as high as 50th and is currently outside the top 700 because of her long absence from the tour, but used a special ranking to make the field at Roland Garros.

The Grand Slam Board introduced the performance rule before the 2018 season. The aim is to deter players who enter tournaments while injured from retiring during first-round matches to collect prize money. Players can be fined their first-round check if they do not “perform to a professional standard.”

Injured players who withdraw before the tournament – allowing someone who lost in qualifying to get into the draw – receive half the first-round prize money.