Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Stephens coasts, Querrey blows big lead in French Open

Sloane Stephens, who grew up in Fresno, Calif., routed Russian Vitalia Diatchenko
6-2, 6-2 today in the first round of the French Open. 2016 photo by Mal Taam 
   Sloane Stephens earned her first clay-court victory of the year, while Sam Querrey's struggles continued today.
   Stephens, a 27-year-old Fresno, Calif., product seeded 29th, dispatched Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia 6-2, 6-2 in 66 minutes in the opening round of the French Open in Paris.
   Diatchenko, 30, hit only six winners and committed 28 unforced errors.
   Stephens, who reached the 2018 final and 2019 quarterfinals at Roland Garros, had lost in the first round in Rome and Strasbourg in the previous two weeks. She is now based in Florida.
   No. 13 seed Andrey Rublev, a 22-year-old rising star from Russia, topped Querrey, a 32-year-old San Francisco native now living in Las Vegas, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 7-5, 6-4, 6-3 in 3 hours, 17 minutes for his first main-draw victory in the French Open.
   Querrey, who has never advanced past the third round at Roland Garros in 13 appearances, led 5-2 in the third set. 
    Overall, the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) Querrey blasted 29 aces and committed 11 double faults. The 6-foot-2 (1.87-meter) Rublev had 23 and two, respectively.
   Querrey, who became a father in February, fell to 0-4 since the ATP and WTA tours resumed in early August after a five-month layoff caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Only 1,000 fans are allowed at Roland Garros each day because cases have skyrocketed in France recently.
   Rublev, the French Open boys singles champion in 2014, reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals for the second time this month and won his third title of the year on Sunday in Hamburg on clay.   
   Stephens, who has tumbled from a career-high No. 3 in 2018 to No. 34, is scheduled to play Paula Badosa, a 22-year-old New York native who plays for Spain, for the first time on Thursday.
   Badosa, the 2015 French Open girls singles champion, defeated Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. The 87th-ranked Badosa had 41 winners and only 15 unforced errors.
   Meanwhile, 17-year-old Clara Tauson of Denmark saved two match points and stunned 21st-seeded Jennifer Brady, a U.S. Open semifinalist, 6-4, 3-6, 9-7 in 2 hours, 45 minutes for her first Grand Slam main-draw victory.
   Top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who won the 2016 French Open to complete a career Grand Slam, routed Mikael Ymer of Sweden 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 in 1 hour, 38 minutes to improve to 32-1 this year.
   Djokovic's only loss of 2019 came when he was defaulted in the fourth round of the U.S. Open for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball. The line judge gasped for air but was not seriously injured.
   Fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece topped Spain's Jaume Munar 4-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-4. Rublev defeated Tsitsipas in the Hamburg final and Munar in the 2014 French Open boys singles final.
   In the first round of men's doubles, Marton Fucsovics of Hungary and Cameron Norrie of Great Britain beat Mackenzie McDonald, who was born and raised in Piedmont in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Tennys Sandgren of Gallatin, Tenn., 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
   Norrie won back-to-back singles titles in Northern California Challengers in 2017, defeating Sandgren in the Tiburon final

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