Unseeded Stephens into Round 2 at Cincinnati

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Unseeded American Sloane Stephens overcame a sluggish start to the Cincinnati Open with a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Italy’s Elisabetta Cocciaretto on Monday to set up a second-round showdown with French defending champion Caroline Garcia.

Stephens, who along with Cocciaretto was unable to get a full warm-up in due to rain that delayed the beginning of the match, broke the Italian five times and saved three of five break points en route to sealing the win in 76 minutes.

“I felt like when I came out here I was a little bit slow and obviously she didn’t get to do her full warm-up, and our warm-up it was raining at the end,” world number 38 Stephens said in her on-court interview. “So a lot drama but happy to be through after a slow start.”

Cocciaretto took control early on and built a 5-2 lead that gave her two chances to serve out the set but Stephens dialed up the pace and broke to love on each occasion as she used a five-game winning streak to wrap up the opening set.

In the second, Stephens kept her foot on the gas as she consolidated an early break with a hold to love for a 3-0 lead before going on to end the encounter with another service break.

Stephens can expect a tougher test against sixth seed Garcia, who is 4-2 all-time versus the American including a pair of first-round wins at the Cincinnati Open. Stephens won their most recent encounter at Guadalajara in 2022.

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