PARIS – Asked a few days ago if being the top American woman remaining at the French Open affected her, Sloane Stephens said, “It means nothing.”
What means something, it seems, is that this is a Grand Slam event.
Stephens, seeded 15th, defeated No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday to advance to the second week of a major for the sixth consecutive tournament — the longest active streak on the WTA Tour.
Since the beginning of 2013, Stephens is 21-5 in Grand Slam tournament matches and 32-29 at all other events. This year, she advanced past the third round in three of the 11 tournaments she has played: the French Open, the Australian Open and the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.
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At her postmatch news conference, Stephens was repeatedly asked to explain the disparity.
“If I knew, I would capitalize on it,” she said. “I would do it every week. I would, you know, make the most of it. But I guess it’s all just a learning experience. Rather this than anything else, so it’s OK for now.”
Stephens, 21, will next face No. 4 Simona Halep of Romania, the highest remaining seed in the women’s draw. Halep, 22, defeated Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor 6-3, 6-0.
In the men’s bracket, eight-time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain beat 65th-ranked Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 in the third round and revealed back pain is slowing his serves.
Fading light meant Wimbledon champion Andy Murray of Britain and No. 28 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany couldn’t finish their match. It was suspended while they were at 7-all in the fifth set.