Sloane Stephens avoided a fourth straight defeat as she won her opening match at the Rogers Cup in Montreal

Stephens returns to winning ways in Montreal



Originally published on 05/08/14

The world No.20, who recently parted company with coach Paul Annacone, has slipped down the rankings this season after reaching a career high No.11 in October last year.

Stephens had lost three matches in a row – after a second-round defeat to Caroline Wozniacki in Eastbourne, she suffered first-round exits at the hands of lesser-ranked players; world No.109 Maria Kirilenko at Wimbledon and Christina McHale, ranked No.50, in Washington DC last week.

However, she returned to winning ways in style in Montreal, where she beat home favourite Aleksandra Wozniak 6-3 6-0 to set up a second-round clash with No.7 seed Jelena Jankovic.

"She really played well," Wozniak admitted. "She served at a high percentage, 75 per cent, and it was tough to return. It wasn't easy, for sure. You have a warrior mentality, you want to fight for every point, but she played great tennis. I didn't expect that. She played a perfect match."

While Canadian No.1 Eugenie Bouchard is not in action until Tuesday owing to a first-round bye (she plays American Shelby Rogers in the second round), the Montreal crowd had something to cheer about as 17-year-old wildcard Francoise Abanda pushed Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova to three sets.

The tenth seed eventually prevailed 6-1 3-6 6-0 but not without a scare as the world No.209 fed off the crowd to put Cibulkova on the back foot.

"I knew she's young player, she has nothing to lose, she has all the support," said Cibulkova, who will face Britain’s Heather Watson in the second round. "I just really had to calm myself. After the second set I just sit down and I talk to myself. I was playing well the first set, I knew what I have to change. I wasn't panicking. I wasn't losing my head. That was important." 


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