PARIS, France -- 2018 finalist Sloane Stephens of the United States got her Roland Garros campaign underway on Tuesday with a speedy 6-2, 6-2 opening-round victory over Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko, in their first meeting.
With her 66-minute win over 116th-ranked Diatchenko, No.29 seed Stephens has now won her first-round tilt at the French Open in each of her last eight showings. The former World No.3 is trying to maintain momentum in her season following a third-round appearance at the US Open last month, where she tussled with eventual semifinalist Serena Williams before falling in three sets.
The American is hoping to continue a history of success in Paris, with a quarterfinal run last year and four consecutive fourth-round showings between 2012 and 2015 accompanying her run to the final two years ago, where she pushed Simona Halep to three sets.
Stephens's first-round tilt exhibited the form which brought her all of those wins -- the 2017 US Open champion never faced a break point all day, and she won 55 percent of returning points against Diatchenko, who has double-handed shots from both the forehand and backhand sides. Stephens converted four of her seven break points to polish off the quick day at the office.
This view really doesn’t get old 😌 pic.twitter.com/Tb0uWCLGUR— sloanestephens (@SloaneStephens) September 27, 2020
Stephens started the clash off with a bang, breaking Diatchenko at love, and using her crosscourt backhand to great effect as she took the first six points of the match. Diatchenko stopped that streak with a forehand winner down the line, but she was unable to quell Stephens’s hot form as the American broke again at love for 4-1.
The former finalist again found herself reeling off consecutive points, following the love break with a love hold, then reaching triple set point in the next game -- 11 straight points for Stephens. At that moment, though, the powerful game of Diatchenko started to click, as she found sturdier groundstrokes and drew return miscues with solid serves, gritting out that hold for 5-2.
Missing that trio of chances did not cause Stephens to stumble, as she rebounded from 15-30 in the next game with an ace and a forehand winner to garner a fourth set point. That opportunity was taken by the American, who followed up another strong serve with a winning forehand to collect the one-set lead.
The American took early control of the second set as well, after Diatchenko misfired long on break point of a tense game to give Stephens a 2-1 lead. Stephens subsequently triumphed in another close game from 30-30, sealing the hold with more fabulous forehands, and from that point forward, the 2018 runner-up was in the driver’s seat.
At 4-2, a backhand winner down the line gave Stephens two break points, and she converted the first of those chances with a crosscourt winner from the same wing, putting her ahead 5-2. Stephens zipped to double match point in the next game, and though she hit her only double fault of the day on the first, the second brought victory after one final forehand winner.
Next up for Stephens will be a second-round encounter with Paula Badosa of Spain, who outlasted Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine in three sets on Tuesday. It will be the first time Stephens and Badosa will square off.