(February 17, 2014) DUBAI – World No. 18 Sloane Stephens is now winless (0-2) in non-major events this year following a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Lucie Safarova in the first round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Monday. Last year Stephens also lost in the opening round of Dubai and last week, the American also fell in her first match in Doha last week.
Stephens told media that she needs to improve her results at Premier-Level events.
“I think it’s just something I need to work on, Stephens said. “I obviously need next year to try to do better here, and that’s what I need to do.”
She is 3-1 in majors this year and 0-2 in other events. Last year she was 15-4 in Majors and 24-19 on the WTA tour and Fed Cup. Stephens recently hired former Roger Federer and Pete Sampras coach Paul Annacone as her own.
“Last year was a really long year,” she said. “It was tough towards the end, but I came through like a champ, and I think I did pretty well,” she said. “I think being obviously American, it’s a much bigger deal because sports is really big in the US, and either way I think the whole thing was a learning experience and it was what it was.”
Also into the second round is recent Pattaya winner Ekaterina Makarova, who overcame a challenge from Alisa Kleybanova to win 6-4, 6-7, 6-4. She’ll face No. 1 Serena Williams next.
Also in the day session in the final round of the qualifying matches, Australian Open semi-finalist and world No. 19 Eugenie Bouchard was beaten 6-1, 6-4 by Annika Beck.
Others to advance to the main draw were 2013 US Open semi-finalist Flavia Pennetta, who beat Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-3, Karolina Pliskova, who defeated Camila Giorgi 7-5, 6-2, and Maryna Zanevska rebounded from losing the first five games to defeat Mona Barthel 7-6, 6-4.