26th seed Sloane Stephens defeated Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the US Open on Tuesday. Playing on Court 17, the 2017 champion came to Flushing Meadows with a dismal 1-7 record on the season, but she looked sharp against Buzarnescu, who was playing her first match since September.
"I thought I played well tonight", she said. "Obviously haven't been playing that great. Still kind of finding my confidence and my rhythm. I just kind of felt more like my old self. that's all i'm really working towards."
Stephens sharp in first-round victory
A long first game ended with a break of serve for Stephens as Buzarnescu dumped a slice into the net. After a hold consolidated her lead, the American stepped up the pressure and after a series of deep groundstrokes forced the Romanian back, Stephens stepped in to put away a volley.
Saving break point, she held for a 4-0 lead. Buzarnescu saved a pair of set points in a 12-point seventh game to hold and broke Stephens to draw within 5-3, but she couldn't complete the comeback, a double fault setting up double set point for the 26th seed and after pulling a forehand wide, Stephens was up a set.
Breaks were exchanged to start the second set followed by a pair of love holds to make the score 2-2. That's where Stephens took things to another gear, holding from deuce with a crosscourt forehand winner and backhand deep in the court that Buzarnescu couldn't get back.
Holding 0-40 on the Romanian's serve, she watched Buzarnescu save the first break point, but a forehand directly off of the frame gave Stephens a 4-2 lead. She cruised through her final two service games, winning both to love and closing out the match with a backhand winner.