Sloane Stephens is among four U.S. women in the fourth round of the French Open, the best showing for the Americans since 2004.
PARIS — It has been quite a year for Sloane Stephens.
She reached her first Grand Slam tournament semifinal at the Australian Open in January by beating fellow American Serena Williams. She moved into the top 20 in the world tennis rankings. She also went through a four-month stretch in which she failed to win more than two consecutive matches at any tournament. And she found herself in a bit of a brouhaha over less-than-flattering comments she made to a reporter about Williams.
After a 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3 victory over 92nd-ranked Marina Erakovic of New Zealand on Saturday — helping the United States put four women in French Open fourth-round singles for the first time since 2004 — the 17th-seeded Stephens was asked what one thing she would change in that span since Australia.
The 20-year-old smiled and answered: “That boys weren’t so stupid.”
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On a more serious level, Stephens said, “This is my favorite tournament, so I would really, really, really love to win this tournament. I would love to win here. I think every Grand Slam, I’m getting closer and closer and closer.”
A year ago, Stephens became the first American teenager to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros since Williams in 2001.
She made it back by taking the last three games against Erakovic, earning a matchup against defending champion Maria Sharapova of Russia.
Other U.S. women joining the No. 1-ranked Williams, who won Friday, and Stephens in the fourth round: 54th-ranked Jamie Hampton, who stunned Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 7-6 (9-7); and 67th-ranked Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who beat 118th-ranked Paula Ormaechea of Argentina 4-6, 6-1, 6-3.
For Hampton, 23, it is her first trip to the round of 16 at a major tournament. For the 28-year-old Mattek-Sands, it is her second in 27 Grand Slam events. There hasn’t been a larger group of U.S. women to stick around this long in Paris since 2003, when there were five.
In the men’s bracket, top-ranked Novak Djokovic of Serbia and seven-time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain won third-round matches.
Djokovic beat No. 26 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. Third-seeded Nadal defeated No. 27 Fabio Fognini of Italy 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-4.
A distraught Djokovic did not attend a postmatch news conference after learning of the death of his first coach, Jelena Gencic, 76.