PARIS, France -- Last year’s runner-up Sloane Stephens of the United States slid into the third round of the 2019 French Open with a second consecutive straight-set win on Wednesday, earning a 6-1, 7-6(3) victory over World No.75 Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain.
"Obviously played well both matches, so just happy to be back in a good position in a slam," Stephens said in her post-match press conference.
In their only previous match, Stephens eked out a victory over Sorribes Tormo in two grueling tiebreak sets earlier this year in Charleston. On Wednesday in Paris, No.7 seed Stephens clinched a quick first set but had to thrice come back from a break down in the second set before claiming another tiebreak victory over the solid Spaniard and wrapping up the match after 86 minutes.
Stephens’s three tiebreak wins over Sorribes Tormo in 2019 heavily contribute to the American’s WTA-leading 11 tiebreaks won this year, out of 13 contested. In Wednesday’s Paris encounter, Stephens converted all seven of her break points in the match, and had 24 winners to the Spaniard’s nine.
"I have had obviously, like, my best consistent results here," Stephens stated. "I like playing here. It suits my game well."
"Once I get into a good rhythm in the tournament, I have better results," the World No.7 added. "I just try to do that. I just try to play the best I can from the very beginning, and just see how it goes."
In the third round, Stephens will face Polona Hercog of Slovenia, who overcame American Jennifer Brady, 6-3, 6-7(8), 6-4 in a tough second-round match on Wednesday. Hercog won her third WTA singles title on the clay courts of Lugano earlier this year, but Stephens leads their head-to-head 3-0, including a second-round win at Roland Garros in 2014.
Stephens dominated the opening frame with rocketing groundstrokes, claiming a service break in the first game by cracking open a rally on break point with a stirring backhand. The American rolled through the third game with ferocious forehands, earning another break, this time at love, to take a 3-0 lead.
The forehand side served Stephens well as the set progressed, as she used that wing to force an error on game point to extend her lead to 4-0. Sorribes Tormo finally got on the board in the following game, but the damage had been done in the first set by then.
After holding for 5-1 with a down-the-line backhand winner, Stephens raced to triple set point in the next game, helped along by a double fault by the Spaniard at 0-30. The American converted her first chance after Sorribes Tormo fired a backhand miscue into the net.
It surely seemed as though it would be a quick day at the office for Stephens, as she continued her momentum in the early stages of the second set, opening up another 3-0 lead. But Sorribes Tormo finally earned her first break of the match to get back on serve at 3-2, as the Spaniard found verve on her groundstrokes and deployed delightful dropshots with ease.
Sorribes Tormo ended a four-game winning streak up a break at 4-3 before Stephens rebounded to break back for 4-4, finishing that game with a forehand winner. But Stephens could not close out another quick set for the win, dropping serve twice more to hand Sorribes Tormo leads at 5-4 and 6-5.
The Spaniard, however, was unable to serve out the set at either of those junctures, ending the 6-5 game with two straight double faults. The combatants consequently advanced to their third tiebreak in the four sets they have contested during their rivalry.
Stephens, 10-2 in 2019 tiebreaks coming into this match, used incredible footspeed to keep her nose in front throughout the breaker, chasing down everything the Spaniard threw at her. A screaming forehand winner put Stephens up 5-3, and a subsequent long forehand error by the Spaniard gave Stephens triple match point.
Finally, the aggression that served Stephens so well in the opener was unleashed for the final point, as the American shot a blistering backhand winner down the line to take the tiebreak 7-3 and seal her spot in the third round of Roland Garros for the seventh time in her career.