American Sloane Stevens fought hard to defeat Germany’s Tatjana Malek Thursday but finally got by the 25-year-old lefty. Sloane, 19, had huge troubles with Malek’s game.
Malek used every combination of slice and spin and pace to prevent Stephens from finding a rhythm; the younger player got frustrated and started forcing shots and missing shots—a lot of shots. Stephens hit 62 unforced errors and seven double-faults in the two-and-a-half-hour match.
Malek took the first set 7–5, using a stronger serve, a quarter fewer winners but a third fewer errors. Malek sent most balls on long, looping arcs to the edge of the baseline, but would occasionally crack a devastating forehand.Stephens was visibly upset but she fought back hard. The turning point was the sixth game of the second set, a 26-point war where Malek couldn’t break Stephens in almost 15 minutes of trying.
The final set was almost easy by comparison, taking only 36 minutes. Stephens hit only 13 winners to only ten errors to close out the match.