Former champion Sloane Stephens sailed through her Credit One Charleston Open first round in just 66 minutes, defeating Magdalena Frech 6-0, 6-2 to set up a clash with No.14 seed Leylah Fernandez.

Stephens had won both of her previous encounters with Frech, but the most recent had been a three-set barnburner in the first round of Parma 2022, which she won 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. There were no such struggles in the rematch on her home soil.

The 31-year-old dropped just 12 points in the first set, lost serve only once at the start of the second set and struck 16 winners to 13 unforced errors, with her off forehand firing particularly smoothly.

Frech has had some career-best results in 2024 so far, reaching the fourth round of a major for the first time at the Australian Open and cracking the Top 50 as a result. However, the Pole was unable to find a way to hit through Stephens, committing 18 unforced errors to only five winners, and is now on a five-match losing streak after today's loss.

Stephens, the 2017 US Open champion, will next face the 2021 US Open finalist in Fernandez. The Canadian has won all three of their prior encounters at Monterrey 2020, Lexington 2020 and the Grampians Trophy 2021, the latter two in straight sets. However, this will be their first meeting on clay.

"My archnemesis in my mind," said Stephens with a laugh in the on-court interview. "I'm just going to come out here and try to play my best on a new surface."

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75% Win 3
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While Stephens progressed, another American former Grand Slam champion fell at the first hurdle. Taylor Townsend ousted 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin 6-3, 6-3 in 1 hour and 22 minutes.

It was the second encounter in Charleston between the two compatriots: Kenin had prevailed 6-4, 6-3 in the first round of qualifying in 2017, and had won three of their previous four matches overall. However, Townsend delivered an impeccable serving performance, dropping just three points behind her first serve and getting broken only once. Kenin has won just one of 10 matches in 2024 so far, and is now on an eight-match losing streak.

No.68-ranked Townsend will next face No.6 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, who is fresh off a run to the Miami semifinals last week. Alexandrova leads their head-to-head 2-0, winning both previous encounters on hard courts in three sets last year.