For the second time in as many weeks, Sloane Stephens came out on top over No.14 seed Petra Kvitova to move into the round of 16 at the Western & Southern Open.
Stephens – a former World No.11, who missed nearly a year of action due to a foot injury before returning at Wimbledon – faced Kvitova last week in Toronto on her way to the semifinals, scoring a statement three-set victory to mark the best match of her comeback to date.
On Wednesday in Cincinnati, Stephens backed it up with another victory against Kvitova, needing just 70 minutes to win 6-2, 6-3 and make her way into the round of 16.
Stephens stayed solid against Kvitova from start to finish, allowing the big-hitting Czech a paltry four winners in the first set and three in the second. They finished the match tied at seven winners each, but Kvitova’s 33 unforced errors far outpaced Stephens’ 10.
The American was firmly in control for a set and a half, breaking twice in the first set and twice in the second to build up a 6-2, 4-0 lead.
But Kvitova – who’d been struggling with pain in her right thigh throughout the match – began to mount a comeback. She reeled off three games in a row and had points to make it a fourth when Stephens stopped her charge. The American quickly got back on track, holding serve then breaking Kvitova to make her way into the round of 16.