PARIS — 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens has beaten a top-10 player for the first time in 2½ years to reach the third round at the French Open.
Stephens returned well and used her defensive skills to defuse 10th-ranked Karolina Pliskova’s power for a 7-5, 6-1 victory.
The steady Stephens had 22 winners and only 17 unforced errors, and she broke six times.
Ranked 59th, Stephens is out of the top 50 for the first time since 2017 but always dangerous on clay. She was the runner-up at the 2018 French Open and made the quarterfinals in 2019.
After ending a four-match losing streak on clay in the previous round, last year’s runner-up Sofia Kenin advanced to the third round with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Hailey Baptiste in a battle of Americans.
Kenin has had a tough start to the season. The 2020 Australian Open champion underwent an emergency appendectomy in Melbourne in February and her record was 7-8 entering the clay-court Grand Slam.
Fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina also progressed by defeating French Open debutant Ann Li of the United States 6-0, 6-4.
Svitolina played brilliantly in the opening set by combining deep shots from the baseline with clever play at the net and dropping only five points on her service games. She recovered from a blip early in the second set to win the last five games.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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