Stephens wins in first round of New Haven Open
NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Sloane Stephens beat Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-4 Monday in the first round of the New Haven Open.
The sixth seed, and top-ranked American in the draw, broke Schmiedlova in the third game of the match, while reeling off 13 straight points. The two traded breaks in the second set until Stephens held serve to go up 4-2.
She will play German Julia Goerges in the second round. Goerges advanced with a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 win over Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia.
Stephens, who beat Serena Williams to reach the semifinals of the Australian Open in January and made the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in July, came into the match ranked 17th in the world.
Two years ago, she came into New Haven ranked 110th and lost in qualifying.
Stephens said she's been able to stay grounded with the help of some friends, including tennis legend Billie Jean King, who sends her texts before every big match.
"She says `pressure is a privilege,''' Stephens said. "I think it's one of the strongest statements I've heard.''
Fifth-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy was the tournament's first upset victim, falling 7-5, 6-3 to Carla Suarez Navarro. The Spaniard will next play Romanian Simona Halep, who beat Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia, 6-2, 6-1.
The 21-year-old Halep has already won three tournaments this year and is coming off an appearance in the quarterfinals in Cincinnati, where she lost to Serena Williams. She feels she's peaking at the right time.
"My game it's very good now; I have more confidence in me,'' she said. "I have to enjoy (next week's) U.S. Open, because at the Grand Slams, I didn't play so well this year.''
Eighth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, ranked 19th in the world, also lost. She was beaten by Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Other winners Monday included Russians Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Vesnina, Mayo Hibi of Japan, qualifier Monica Puig of Puerto Rico and Karin Knapp of Italy.
Four-time New Haven champion Caroline Wozniacki was scheduled to play Monday night against Peng Shuai of China. Wozniacki, who withdrew last year with an injury in the semifinals, came into the match 20-1 in her five years at this tournament.
"It almost feels like a second home, playing, winning,'' Wozniacki said
Defending champion Petra Kvitova was to play Poland's Urzula Radwanska in the final match of the day. But Radwanska was forced to withdraw with what was described as a viral illness and was replaced by Annika Beck of Germany.
Kvitova, who has made the quarterfinals of the last three events she played, said she is using this tournament as a way to help prepare for the humidity in New York next week, which she says wreaks havoc with her asthma.
"I never like playing in America, because of my asthma,'' she said. "But last year I played quite well, I won two titles, so it was a pretty good year, so I know that I can play good here.''
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