Sloane Stephens smashes the ball to  Simona Halep during their fourth round match Monday at Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France.
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Sloane Stephens smashes the ball to Simona Halep during their fourth round match Monday at Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France.

Stephens, the final American remaining, loses at French Open

By The Associated Press

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PARIS – Hardly a good day to be an American in Paris.

The last of the 22 U.S. men and women who were in the French Open singles draws, 15th-seeded Sloane Stephens, lost, 6-4, 6-3, Monday to No. 4 Simona Halep of Romania in the fourth round. That came a day after the last American man in singles, No. 10 John Isner, exited before the quarterfinals, too.

There was more Monday, though.

The No. 1-seeded men’s doubles team, defending champions Bob and Mike Bryan, lost in the quarterfinals, beaten 6-4, 6-2 by the 12th-seeded duo of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez of Spain. That left no Americans in men’s or women’s doubles, either.

And the No. 1-seeded boy in the junior tournament, 16-year-old Francis Tiafoe of College Park, Maryland, lost in the second round to Jan Choinski, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Stephens has been to the second week at six consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, the longest active streak by a woman. But she has lost in the fourth round of the French Open each of the past three years.

Her match Monday was tied at 4-all in the first set when Halep took control by winning the next four games.

“It’s always tough playing someone who is really consistent and has a lot of confidence and just plays a solid game,” said Stephens, who is based in Florida.

“I didn’t execute my game as well as I thought I could,” Stephens said. “That’s a little bit disappointing, but obviously that happens.”

Stephens was broken in six of the nine games she served and made 35 unforced errors, 10 more than first-time French Open quarterfinalist Halep.

“I dominated the match, I think,” Halep said. “I didn’t serve very well, but I tried to return better – and I did.”

The Bryan twins have now failed to reach the final at any of the last three Grand Slam tournaments – after winning four major titles in a row before that, starting at the 2012 U.S. Open.

Their bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s doubles since 1951 ended with a semifinal loss at last year’s U.S. Open. The Bryans then lost in the third round at the Australian Open in January.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed,” Mike said. “We thought we could have played a little better.”

 


Nadal advances

PARIS – For the first time in his career, Rafael Nadal will make a fifth straight appearance in the French Open quarterfinals.

Nadal won a record 32nd straight match at Roland Garros on Monday, beating Dusan Lajovic, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1, to improve on his own record by one.

Nadal is an eight-time French Open champion with a 63-1 record on the red clay in Paris. His only loss came in the fourth round in 2009, when he was a four-time defending champion for the first time.

Another upset never seemed possible this time, despite complaints of pain in his back that slowed his serves in the previous round.

“I don’t want to talk too much about this thing (Monday),” Nadal said of his injury. “I have important match to come. Today I won a match in good shape. We’ll see what’s going on in the future.”

The top-seeded Spaniard controlled the match from the start, then won 17 straight points to open the second set.

taking a 4-0 lead before finally sending a backhand wide to make it 15-15 in the fifth game.

Later in that set, Lajovic held three break points at 0-40, but Nadal saved them all and held. It wasn’t until late in the third, with the match far out of reach, that Lajovic did manage a break – the only game he won in the final set.

“I played with no mistakes and having the control with the backhand, with the forehand from the baseline,” Nadal said. “Sure, you never know what’s better, but in theory, the theory says that it’s better win like this than win longer matches.”

Nadal has won 13 major titles, and is the only man to win eight at one of the four Grand Slam tournaments. With another championship at Roland Garros this year, he would become the first man to win five straight French Open titles.

And he’s looking rather unbeatable. The Spaniard, who turns 28 today, has lost only 23 games through four rounds, only four more than he lost in reaching the quarterfinals in 2012.

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