By Erwin Ong
CINCINNATI – Sloane Stephens scored a big win on Tuesday night with her 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-3 defeat of third seed Maria Sharapova at the 2013 Western & Southern Open. Sharapova was up a break in the second set of this second-round match but could not keep her cool as Stephens played excellent defense. "Sloane is a really great retriever," Sharapova said after the match. "She makes you hit a lot of balls, and sometimes you think it's a really great shot but it keeps coming back."
And Stephens had been nipping at the Russian’s heels, losing three previous matches – all close – against Sharapova. This familiarity helped with tonight’s win. "I'm pretty used to playing her," Stephens shared. "I think I just needed that little push at the end and that's what got it done today."
This was Sharapova’s first match since sustaining a hip injury in the second round of Wimbledon, and the only match she’ll play before competing at the U.S. Open later this month. Sharapova will head to Florida, where she has a home, to train before heading to New York.
In the second marquee night match, Roger Federer beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6(7).
Earlier in the day, American Ryan Harrison pushed 3rd seed David Ferrer in the second round, but went down 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-4. Even with the loss, Harrison will re-enter the Top 100 when the rankings are released on Monday. Harrison has also been awarded a wild card into the main draw of the 2013 U.S. Open. "I feel like my game is obviously right there on the brink of playing those top guys," referring to his game as he heads into the final Slam of the year. "That's kind of where you want it."
Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic could not convert any of the five match points she had in the second-set tiebreak against France’s Alize Cornet, eventually losing 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-4.
15th seed Gilles Simon retired from his match against Canadian Vasek Pospisil because of a hip strain. Pospisil, who reached the men’s semifinals of the Rogers Cup last week, will next play qualifier David Goffin.
Other winners today include Grigor Dimitrov, who took out American wild card Brian Baker; Monica Niculescu, a lucky loser who replaced an injured Sorana Cirstea in the draw; and Frenchman Julien Benneteau. Milos Raonic needed three sets to defeat Jack Sock 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
In men’s doubles, the wild card team of James Blake and Steve Johnson are through to the second round and will face 7th seeds Benneteau and Zimonjic.