French Open: U.S. women find second round tougher

PARIS — Melanie Oudin and other young American women are finding the going much tougher in the second round of the French Open.

The three U.S. women on court early Wednesday against more-experienced opponents at Roland Garros all lost, including 2009 U.S. Open quarterfinalist Oudin, who was eliminated by 21st-seeded Sara Errani of Italy 6-2, 6-3.

“She’s definitely one of the best grinders on the clay, for sure. So it’s not a great matchup for me. But I think after being down 5-0 in the first set, I started playing much better,” Oudin said. “I’m still trying to get back, and definitely it was good to see how I matched up against her.”

Two others from the United States also faced seeded players — and also exited in straight sets.

Vania King was beaten by No. 15 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-0, 6-2, while Irina Falconi lost 6-1, 6-4 to No. 6 Sam Stosur, the reigning U.S. Open champion.

Sloane Stephens, a 19-year-old from Coral Springs, Fla., did manage to make it to the third round at the expense of another American, Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Stephens won 6-1, 6-1 to reach the French Open’s third round for the first time.

Yet another American, qualifier Alexa Glatch, was scheduled to face No. 18 Flavia Pennetta of Italy later Wednesday.

U.S. women got off to a 10-0 start at Roland Garros on Sunday and Monday, before the other two entrants lost in the first round Tuesday. Still, the 10 into the second round were the most at the French Open since 11 in 2003.

“People have definitely underestimated Americans playing on red clay. And, yeah, I think a lot of us are still pretty young, have a lot of work to do on it still, with the movement and getting the footing right,” Oudin said.

“Playing Errani, you can tell she’s played on it her whole life, because of the way she moves and she seems so, like, graceful on the court,” Oudin continued. “And I feel like I’m just totally off-balance a lot of the time.”

Still, simply playing at the French Open and winning a match was “a step forward,” Oudin said.

She had lost her previous five Grand Slam matches and dropped too low in the rankings to even try to qualify for Roland Garros before earning a wild card from the U.S. Tennis Association.

Oudin was only 17 when she made her memorable run to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows, including a victory over Maria Sharapova.

A lot of losses followed, but now that she’s working with USTA coaches in New York, Oudin says she’s regained some much-needed confidence.

“I’m really just looking forward to playing good tennis again,” Oudin said.

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