Maria Sharapova Defeats Sloane Stephens to Advance at 2013 French Open

Donald Wood@@Donald_WoodFeatured ColumnistJune 3, 2013

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03:  Maria Sharapova of Russia plays a backhand in her Women's Singles match against Sloane Stephens of United States of America during day nine of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2013 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

After one of the best battles thus far at Roland Garros, No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova defeated No. 17 seed Sloane Stephens by a score of 6-4, 6-3 in the fourth round to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2013 French Open.

Using her hard serve and elite lateral speed along the baseline, Sharapova held off the hard-surging American to advance. Sharapova found her stride after winning a tough first set, and showed that with her height, arm length and prowess on clay, she can and will contend with the best in the women’s division.

That includes No. 1 overall seed Serena Williams.

The Russian star has been absolutely red hot at the 2013 French Open, not dropping a set to anyone thus far in the tournament. In the first round, she beat Su-Wei Hsieh, 6-2, 6-1. She defeated Eugenie Bouchard, 6-2, 6-4, in the second round, and in the third round she beat Jie Zheng, 6-1, 7-5.

At just 20 years old and in her third career French Open, Stephens proved to be a worthy adversary on Monday, but she could not overcome Sharapova's heavy serve and lateral quickness.  

Stephens played great during her run to the fourth round at Roland Garros, beating Karin Knapp in the first round, 6-2, 7-5. She then knocked off Vania King in the second round, 6-1, 6-3. In the third round, she battled Marina Erakovic and emerged victorious, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.

While it was Sharapova who stole the spotlight on this day, it’s clear that Stephens has a bright future as one of the young stars developing into championship contenders.

It won’t be long before the American is challenged for her first Grand Slam title.

Sharapova will now go on to play the winner of the battle between Jamie Hampton and 18th-ranked Jelena Jankovic in the quarterfinals.