PARIS, France -- Paula Badosa of Spain booked a spot in the third round of a Grand Slam event for the first time in her career on Thursday, as she upset 2018 finalist and No.29 seed Sloane Stephens of the United States, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, at Roland Garros.
World No.87 Badosa, making her first appearance in the Roland Garros main draw this week, earned a new career-best win by ranking over 34th-ranked Stephens, grasping her milestone major showing with a 100-minute win.
"I know [Stephens] has very, very good talent," Badosa told the media, after her victory. "But I knew that I had to play my game and to be very intense, and to be there every point. That’s what I tried to do, and it went well."
22-year-old Badosa, who won the Roland Garros junior singles title in 2015, shook off the loss of the second set, where she led by a break, to sweep through the decider and claim the victory. The Spaniard had 20 winners to 18 unforced errors, and held 13 break points in the encounter, converting five.
"The second set, I started very good," said Badosa. "I thought I was going to win, but she played a very good [last] four games there, and I wasn’t being aggressive, I wasn’t playing my game, so that changed the match a little bit. But then, in the third set, I started to play my game, I tried to dominate the points, and to be aggressive. I served very well, as well, and I could win the match."
Former World No.3 Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, brought a sterling 21-2 win-loss record in Grand Slam second-round matches into the tilt. However, the American was unable to hold her seeding on Thursday, with 36 unforced errors outpacing her 27 winners.
In the third round, Badosa will face another player who has reached the championship match in Paris -- 2017 Roland Garros titlist Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. Ostapenko knocked out No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova in straight sets earlier on Thursday, queuing up a first meeting between Badosa and Ostapenko.
"We’ve known each other for a long time," Badosa said, regarding Ostapenko. "We’re the same age, we played in juniors, we’ve known each other since we’re like ten years old! I know she’s very, very aggressive. I’ll try to be there every point, I know it’s very important to be consistent with her, so I’ll try to do that."
Badosa started the match with a quick advantage, swiftly breaking Stephens in the opening game after a forehand by the American found the net on break point. The Spaniard consolidated with a love hold, putting her stamp on the encounter from the very beginning.
At 4-2, Stephens faced double break point after a double fault, but the American used a solid backhand to erase the first, and a strong serve to fend off the second. However, Badosa earned a third chance in that game, and after a rally ended with a netted miscue by Stephens, the Spaniard had the double-break advantage in her hands.
Stephens made a late surge in the set, slamming a return winner plumb on the baseline to break Badosa at love for 5-3. The 29th seed then bravely staved off three set points on her service in the subsequent game to grit out a hold for 5-4, forcing Badosa again to try to serve out the opening frame.
The second time around, though, Badosa would make no mistakes, triumphing in multiple long rallies to garner two more set points. On her fourth opportunity of the set, Badosa clinched the opener 6-4 when the American shot a service return wide.
The second set started with Stephens dropping serve once more, and Badosa took a commanding lead, up a set and a break. The Spaniard sailed through her service games en route to a 4-2 advantage, edging ever closer to her first trip to the third round of a major.
However, Stephens began to find the range on her groundstrokes, and after a hold for 4-3 with a backhand winner, the American crunched a forehand winner down the line to break for 4-4.
Stephens nearly undid her hard work in the next game, missing a volley to give Badosa two break points, but big hitting from the forehand side on the next three points helped the American soar to game point. A strong serve closed out the game, and the seed suddenly had her first lead of the set at 5-4.
The American continued to control the court in the next game, powering through points until a backhand winner down the line earned Stephens a set point. There, Badosa blasted a backhand long, and the former finalist had reeled off four straight games to squeak out the second set.
However, the decider started the same way the first two sets did -- with Badosa breaking the service of Stephens, this time with an error-forcing forehand. The Spaniard took that break and wholly reclaimed the momentum, firing fierce shots at the American en route to a 4-0, double-break lead.
In the final set, Badosa refused to let her head start slip away, with a love hold for 5-1 putting her a game away from the upset. Stephens toughed out a hold for 5-2, making the Spaniard serve it out. Badosa, though, was up to the task, completing the match with a rally backhand down the line to force an error and put herself into the round of 32 at a major for the first time.