Sloane Stephens finally off the mark in 2020, but Venus Williams’ struggles continue

Sloane Stephens upbeat

Sloane Stephens’ wait for her first win of 2020 is finally over as she beat Emma Navarro in the Monterrey Open, but Venus Williams suffered another first-round exit.

Former US Open winner Stephens made opening-round exits in her first four tournaments of the year, including the Australian Open, but her fortunes changed on Monday as she held off fellow American Navarro.

The fifth seed overcame a second-set wobble to beat the wildcard 6-4, 5-7, 6-1 in two hours and 16 minutes.

Stephens will face either Canadian Leylah Fernandez, who was a finalist in Acapulco last week, or Stefanie Vogele from Switzerland next.

Former world No 1 Williams remains winless this year, though, as the American went down against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova with the Slovakian winning 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Schmiedlova has struggled with injury and form in recent months with her last WTA Tour-level win coming in June last year, but she picked up a priceless win.

“It’s one of the best wins of my life,” she said. “I’m very happy it happened here in Monterrey.

“I came here from qualifying, just to be here to play someone as great as Venus Williams, so I’m very thankful. I haven’t had an easy last year and beginning of this year, so I’m grateful for every win.”

Sixth seed Rebecca Peterson also advanced as the Swede beat Kateryna Kozlova from the Ukraine 3-6, 7-6 (7-1), 6-4 while eight-seeded Yafan Wang of China was a 6-4, 6-4 winner over Spaniard Lara Arruabarrena.

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