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Contrasting French fortunes for American tennis aces

QUICK WIN: Sloane Stephens

REIGNING US Open champion Sloane Stephens sped into the second round of the French Open opening day in less than an hour on Sunday (May 27).

The American beat ‘lucky loser’ Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands 6-2 6-0 at Roland Garros. This was Stephens’ first victory at a Grand Slam championship since her maiden title at the US Open last September.

When asked about her poor results since the US Open, the 10th seed said: “I had to take care of myself. I tried to do way more than I should have after the US Open, and I should have just shut it down. But like I’ve said before, my heart was there but my body wasn’t. So, when the two things aren’t connected, it’s never a good thing.”

Stephens took 49 minutes to defeat Rus, hitting 17 winners. The 25-year-old faces the winner of the Magdelana Frech and Ekaterina Alexandrova match next.

There was disappointment though for Stephens' fellow compatriot 9th seed Venus Williams, who endured a dramatic first round exit to China’s Wang Quian 6-4 7-5 on Suzanne Lenglen.

Despite hitting 28 winners compared to her opponent’s 19, Wang broke Williams' powerful serve in both sets. This proved decisive for the 85th ranked player taking revenge for her own first round losses to Williams at Roland Garros and Wimbledon last year.

It is the first time in Williams’ triumphant 22-year career she has lost consecutive opening matches at Grand Slams. The 2002 runner-up also suffered a 1st round defeat at the Australian Open in January.

In her press conference, Williams gracious in defeat said: “I think she [Wang Quian] just played well. I mean, all the times we’ve played, she’s played great. I think her game just got better and better during the match.”

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