Sloane Stephens ready to face Maria Sharapova at French Open
Sloane Stephens' progress to the fourth round of the French Open continues a remarkable year for the young player from the United States.
She reached her first grand-slam semi-final at the Australian Open in January by beating Serena Williams. She moved into the top 20 in the WTA rankings. She also went through a four-month stretch in which she failed to win more than two matches in a row at any tournament. And she found herself involved in a row over less-than-flattering comments she made about Williams.
After a 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3 win over lowly ranked Marina Erakovic on Saturday, the 17th-seeded Stephens was asked what she would change since Australia.
She smiled and answered: "That boys weren't so stupid."
Yes, Stephens is every bit a 20-year-old, one with a vibrant personality and vivid sense of humour - and ambitious goals on a tennis court.
"This is my favourite tournament, so I would really, really, really love to win this tournament," she said.
"I would love to win here. Every grand slam, I'm getting closer and closer and closer. You just got to keep plugging away, and hopefully eventually I'll have that big trophy."
A year ago, Stephens became the first US teenager to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros since Williams in 2001.
She made it back by taking the last three games against Erakovic, earning a match against defending champion Maria Sharapova for a spot in the quarter-finals.
They have played twice, with Sharapova winning both in straight sets, including 6-2, 6-1 on clay at Rome last month.