Sloane Stephens Rallies for First-Ever Cup Victory

For Sloane Stephens, the fifth time is the charm.

On Tuesday the American star won her first-ever main draw match at the Volvo Car Open, coming back to defeat compatriot Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

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“Obviously I love Charleston and I love playing here, but just unfortunate I’ve never won a match here,” Stephens, the world No. 40 told reporters after the win. “So it was nice to get the monkey off my back and be able to get that win.”

Stephens will face No. 15 Mona Barthel in the second round, with a potential meeting against top seed and world No. 7 Genie Bouchard looming in round three.

The victory was revenge of sorts for Stephens against the always-tough Mattek-Sands: Two years ago Mattek-Sands had won a first-round match here between the two of them rather handily.

“I was down a set and 2-0 and it was not looking good,” Stephens said about the comeback. “So I was happy I was able to push through some games and make her play a lot more, and to be able to come out with a win.”

In 2012 Stephens won two qualifying matches here, but lost in the first round that year and then again in 2013 and last year. In fact, she had never won a set before at the Family Circle Tennis Center.

But Tuesday she changed that fact, winning her 10th match of the year and eighth in 11 matches. She was a quarterfinalist last week in Miami.

An on-court visit from her coach, the renowned Nick Saviano, helped in set two, Stephens said, turning around the match in her favor.

“It forced me to stay focused and just compete on every shot and just make sure that I’m having fun out there,” said Stephens, 22. “And we work well together, and he really does motivate me and push me to do better.”