American Sloane Stephens’ (pictured left) fantastic summer swing continued its journey Friday afternoon as the 24-year-old Florida native cruised into the Round of 16 at the U.S. Open with a convincing 6-2, 6-4 triumph over Australia’s Ashleigh Barty inside the temporary Louis Armstrong Stadium.
It wasn’t the cleanest match for Stephens, who had more unforced errors (21) than winners (18), but she came away with the big points in the match’s most crucial moments. She converted on six of nine break point chances, including three of four in the second set, and won 15 of the 20 points on rallies that lasted nine or more shots.
The win is just the latest in a string of good play for the 2013 Australian Open semifinalist. After returning to the tour following foot surgery in January, Stephens has found her groove. She reached the semifinals in both Toronto and Cincinnati.
Stephens will play 30th-seeded German Julia Goerges for a spot in the quarterfinals. Goerges defeated Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic 6-3, 6-3 in her third-round match on Friday.
Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza powered her way into the fourth round in Flushing Meadows, needing just over an hour to defeat 31st seeded Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 6-1, 6-1. Muguruza will take on the 13th-seed Petra Kvitova next in an exciting Round of 16 showdown.
Kvitova cruised in her match on Friday as well, opening up play inside Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 6-0, 6-4 drubbing of France’s Caroline Garcia. Kvitova hit 22 winners to 14 unforced errors and didn’t face a single break point all match long to move on in one hour and 13 minutes.
“I’m really pleased with the game I showed today,” Kvitova said. “I mean, the serve was working today, especially the shade on center court is a little bit tricky, so you have to work with that, as well, be in the sun or be in the shade. But I think that I moved pretty well, as well. I knew that it would be a tough match. I remember her from the last time; we played in Fed Cup, and she was just really on fire. That’s what I tried today, to be more fired up than her.”
Brian Coleman is the Senior Editor for New York Tennis Magazine. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org