A Good Day For Americans In Paris
Published May 27, 2013 12:01
The No.17-seeded Stephens cruised through the first set then showed her fight in a very competitive second set, winning six of seven games from 4-1 down to close Karin Knapp out in straights, 62 75.
A year ago, Stephens made the fourth round here - her first time into a Grand Slam second week.
"Obviously I'm really excited to be back here at Roland Garros," Stephens said. "I had a great year last year and this was one of my favorite tournaments, so it's good to be back and playing a lot better than a couple of weeks ago. I'm just really excited to be back on the court and playing well again.
"Paris is Paris - I think everyone who comes here is excited."
After her breakthrough Australian swing, Stephens had a difficult go of things during the ensuing hardcourt season - but the last few weeks she has really picked up her game again, winning back-to-back matches to make the third round of Rome and the quarterfinals of Brussels the last two weeks.
"Obviously I haven't had that many good results leading up to the clay season, so to get some matches in on my favorite surface and get some confidence back, I'm just really excited to be on the court again, and loving it again. Even though I didn't win a tournament or make it to the finals of a tournament.
"Tough times don't always last. To get through it is awesome. The last couple months were difficult, but I think I've worked my way through it. I feel good about myself, and that's all that matters."
Other seeds moving on included No.8 seed Angelique Kerber, No.15 seed Roberta Vinci, No.21 seed Kirsten Flipkens and No.29 seed Varvara Lepchenko. Kerber had lost two of her three previous meetings with Mona Barthel but came out on top this time, 76(6) 62, saving three set points en route to taking the first set - two set points down 5-4, then another set point trailing 6-5 in the tie-break.
There were a few surprises sprinkled around the grounds though, with 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova picking off No.22 seed Ekaterina Makarova, 64 62; Zuzana Kucova beating No.24 seed Julia Goerges, 76(8) 60; and Melanie Oudin beating No.28 seed Tamira Paszek, 64 63.
"I think we're doing well," Stephens said of her home team. "I think everyone won today, which I think is really good. Madison won, Melanie, Bethanie - a couple of other people won too. And we're all pretty close with each other, so it's always good to see them do well. Everyone's just trying to get better.
"I think we motivate each other, and it's a good thing."