Paris: Someday, maybe soon, a fourth-round exit at a Grand Slam won't feel like such a big success to Sloane Stephens. The unseeded American teenager's best run at a Major came to an end in the fourth round of the French Open on Sunday with a 7-5, 6-4 loss to US Open champion Sam Stosur.
Despite the loss, she leaves Paris with the arrow on her career pointed in an upward direction.
"People play well with confidence, and when you're having fun and you're doing the right things, everything's all good," Stephens said. "So even though I lost today, I played pretty well."
Stephens, the daughter of a former NFL star and a college All-American swimmer, fell behind 5-1 in the second set against Stosur before breaking her twice to extend the match. A tough way to end things, though Stephens already has one reward in mind. She'll upgrade to a first-class flight back home to Florida, where preparations for Wimbledon will begin.
Stephens' exit leaves Varvara Lepchenko, who's also unseeded, as the only US singles player left in the tournament. Lepchenko takes on Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic in the fourth round on Monday.
Stephens was struggling earlier in the year and she attributes her recent turnaround to cutting a lot of the sugar out of her diet. During her recent uptick, she qualified for the Italian Open and reached the second round, then made her first WTA semi-final, at Strasbourg. Now, the success at Roland Garros " and the diet might have to go on hold for a day.
"Even though I've been saying, 'Man, I can't wait to get home to eat my grandpa's curry crab,' I don't want to leave," she said. "So it's kind of bittersweet that I'm going home. But I had so much fun."
Stosur came through on a day of upsets in the women's quarter-finals. The No. 1-seeded woman, Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka, was headed home after losing to No. 15 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-2, 7-6 (4), busting a racket on the way out the door.
Asked afterwards what she'll do to recover from the defeat, Azarenka replied sarcastically, "I'm going to kill myself," then added: "This tournament is over for me. What's to recover from?"
No. 21 Sara Errani of Italy beat two-time Major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-0, 7-5, setting up a match against No. 10 Angelique Kerber of Germany, a 6-3, 7-5 winner over unseeded Petra Martic of Croatia.
Azarenka's loss means that Maria Sharapova, scheduled to play her fourth-round match on Monday, can move up to No. 1 in the rankings by reaching the final.
Asked what went awry, Azarenka replied: "Pretty much everything, really. I don't know how to describe my performance, really, today. It wasn't satisfying at all. ... But I guess it happens."