Tennis-Stephens puts down marker on 'favourite court in the world'

  • Tennis
  • Monday, 29 May 2023

Tennis - French Open - Roland Garros, Paris, France - May 29, 2023 Sloane Stephens of the U.S. celebrates winning her first round match against Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

PARIS (Reuters) - Sloane Stephens relished every moment she spent on her favourite court in the world as the she cruised to a 6-0 6-4 first-round victory over former world number one Karolina Pliskova on Monday to put down an early marker at the French Open.

The 30-year-old, runner-up in Paris five years ago, gave erratic Pliskova no chance on the main Philippe-Chatrier court, speeding through the first set in 49 minutes before the Czech recovered in the second.

But she kept piling up unforced errors -- 31 in total -- as well as half a dozen double faults, giving Stephens, ranked in the past as high as third in the world, the chance to race back from 4-3 down, break her twice and rattle off the next three games to seal victory.

"This is my favourite court in the world and I am super happy to be back," said Stephens, currently ranked 30th.

The American, who won her only Grand Slam at the 2017 U.S. Open, was also a quarter-finalist in Paris last year despite struggling for form.

Stephens came into the tournament in improving form on clay after winning her first WTA 125 event and reaching the semi-finals on clay in Rabat last week.

"To start like that on your favourite court and favourite surface is great. I wanted to get matches under my belt this year (before the tournament) and I was feeling confident," Stephens said.

(This story has been corrected to change Pliskova's christian name to Karolina in paragraph 1)

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)

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