Sloane Stephens rallied to defeat Mandy Minella from a set down to advance to the third round.
Minella takes first set with solid play
The match began with the server winning the first 12 points until the fourth game when Minella, ahead 2-1, managed to craft a break to take a 3-1 lead. Stephens was able to break right back to get the set back on serve at 3-2. It appeared things were back the way of the server and they were until Minella broke again at 4-3. That proved to be the difference as Minella was able to serve out the set, winning it 6-3 in just 24 minutes, putting herself in a familiar position against the American.
Stephens saves match point, wins second set in tiebreak
History can sometimes repeat itself and that's exactly what happened here, the match reminiscent of their 2013 U.S. Open match with Minella out to the lead. As with the first set, the server was dominant early on, the first four games yielding just five points to the returner. With the tone of this match as it was, Stephens saved three break points at 2-all, a crucial hold as it would turn out. Minella would break back on top to lead 4-3, Stephens coming back to break and level at the set at 4-all. Minella would again break and serve for the match at 5-4, Stephens resolute in keeping herself in the tournament when Minella was two points from the match serving at 5-4, 30-0.
With her newfound momentum, Stephens held and engaged in one of the longest games of the tournament, Minella fighting off four set points to force a tiebreaker after an 18-point tiebreaker. The tiebreaker went the way of the returner, Minella getting the first minibreak, surrendering her advantage to lead 2-1 on serve, four straight points going to the returner that saw the tiebreaker level at 4-all. After three straight holds, Minella had her chance, holding a match point at 6-5, Stephens coming back to save it and taking the set 7-6 and the tiebreak 8-6 to win the set in an hour and seven minutes to force a deciding third set.
Stephens wins match after delay, reaches third round
It appeared all the momentum was with the American after her nailbiting second set win and she broke straightaway to start the final set only to be broken back. Four more games would be played, all going to the server before rain would halt play with the final set knotted up at 3 apiece. Upon the resumption of play, breaks were exchanged, Stephens back on top after a smart slice backhand forced a Minella forehand error.
Now ahead 4-3, Stephens gave her lead up right away, Minella's crosscourt forehand finding the mark to square things at 4. At 6-all, Stephens struck the final, decisive blow, a backhand down the line giving her the break she needed. Now serving for the match at 7-6, one final backhand forced a Minella error on her fourth match point gave Stephens an 8-6 third set win, Minella firing her racket in frustration, knowing another match against the American had slipped away in much the same manner it had in Flushing three years ago.
Kuznetsova awaits on Middle Sunday
For only the fourth time in tournament history, play will occur on the middle Sunday, having previously taken place in 1991, 1997 and 2004. Stephens will face 13th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova In the third round. The Russian has won two of their previous three meetings, but this will be their first meeting on grass.