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Two more American hopefuls in singles face the odds

June 03, 2012 | 04:58 AM

Barring a major upset today, 19 year old Sloane Stephens was going to be the only remaining American man or woman left in the singles going into the second week.

Competing today for a chance to reach week 2 were:

- First, on Court 1, facing #14 seed Schiavone, Varvara Lepchenko, a 26 year old American born in Uzbekistan and currently ranked #61, reached a 3rd round in a Major for the first time. Schiavo struggled in her last match with a slow start that cost her a set against Pironkova. - Second up on Lenglen today, Christina McHale faced last year's champion Na Li. The American, who turned 20 last month, reached a high ranking of #32 this year and is far from being unknown in majors. Though she lost in the 1st round in Paris the last 2 years, she reached the 3rd round at the Open last year and at Australia this year. Li had lost all of 5 games so far in her 2 matches, and may have expected to see fight from McHale. She got it: McHale won the first 6-3, before 7th seeded Li could take control and win the next two, 6-2, 6-1.

The lefty Lepchenko pulled the upset of the day knocking off the #12 seeded 2010 champion: 3-6, 6-3, 8-6, going for it in the end with her big serve and forehand. She's been working on her game, which has come together this year in New York with the USTA training program for which her recent citizenship qualified her (her game may resemble Nadal more than McEnroe).

Next up for Vuvuvara will be 4th seed Petra Kvitova, who survived a 3 set scare from Nina Bratchilkova. Petra has struggled with injuries since Australia, and is candid about the difficulty of finding her game consistently when she needs it. Her ranking has drooped from #2 to 4, and another upset here would give her another set-back before she defends Wimbledon next month. But Lepchenko has already played three 3 setters this week, and her new found conditioning may be tested by someone who is capable of hitting corners with as much power as Petra.

Sloane has taken getting to the 4th round in stride, dusting off and shrugging off harder challenges, including her next one: #7 seed and 2010 finalist Sam Stosur. She's been though a lot for a 19 year old, losing both her father and stepfather in the last few years. Her apparent ability to put things out of her mind gives her one of the most essential mental attributes a winning tennis player must possess.

Rick


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