Friday, May 31, 2019

Martic stuns No. 2 seed in French Open; Stephens wins

   After winning the Italian Open two weeks ago, Karolina Pliskova looked like a strong contender for the French Open title.
   It didn't work out that way.
   No. 31 seed Petra Martic of Croatia shocked No. 2 seed Pliskova, the runner-up in the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, 6-3, 6-3 today in the third round in Paris.
   "The key was to focus on my game and try to dictate instead of letting her dictate, which is her biggest strength," Martic, who won Istanbul on clay last month, told reporters. "I had to kind of try to take it way from her, and at times it was difficult, especially when she broke me and when she got a few winners, which she's known for. I'm just happy that I managed in the end to hold my nerves and finish it off."
   Martic, 28, will try to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal when she faces unseeded Kaia Kanepi of Estonia on Sunday. Kanepi, a two-time French Open quarterfinalist, beat unseeded Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 4-6, 6-3, 6-0. Kudermetova ousted No. 13 seed Caroline Wozniacki, formerly ranked No. 1, in the opening round.
   No. 7 seed Sloane Stephens, a Fresno product who reached last year's French Open final, held off Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to set up a showdown against No. 19 seed Garbine Muguruza, the 2016 French Open champion.
   Muguruza, who also won the doubles title in the 2014 Bank of the West Classic with fellow Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro, dismissed No. 9 seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-3.
   The winner of the Stephens-Muguruza match will be favored to reach the final in the bottom half of the draw, which lost No. 4 seed Kiki Bertens to a gastrointestinal illness in the second round and No. 5 seed Angelique Kerber to an upset in the first round.
   Stephens, 26, and Muguruza, 25, have split two career matches, both on hard courts. In their last meeting, Stephens won 6-3, 6-4 in the fourth round at Miami last year.
   In the second round of women's doubles today, Americans Desirae Krawczyk and Jessica Pegula defeated Raquel Atawo (Cal, 2001-04) of Sacramento and Katarina Srebotnik of Slovenia 7-5, 6-3.
   Krawczyk won the doubles title in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger with Giuliana Olmos from Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area.
   Pegula reached the singles final of the 2012 Sacramento Challenger, losing to Modesto product Maria Sanchez, and advanced to the semifinals of the $60,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger last October.
   Pegula's parents, Terrence and Kim Pegula, own the NFL's Buffalo Bills and NHL's Buffalo Sabres.

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