Fixture: (2) Aryna Sabalenka vs Sloane Stephens.
Date: June 4, 2023.
Tournament: French Open 2023.
Round: Fourth round (Round of 16).
Venue: Paris, France.
Category: Grand Slam.
Surface: Outdoor clay.
Prize money: €49,600,000.
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel, NBC Sports, Peacock TV | Canada - TSN | UK - Eurosport | India - Sony Ten.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Sloane Stephens preview
Reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka will take on 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the fourth round of the 2023 French Open on Sunday.
With wins over Marta Kostyuk and Iryna Shymanovich, Sabalenka reached the third round, where she faced Kamila Rakhimova. The Belarusian needed some time to break down her opponent's defenses, but once she did so, there was no stopping her.
Sabalenka broke Rakhimova's serve twice as she bagged four games in a row to take the opener. She rode the momentum into the second set as well, securing a 3-0 lead in no time. The World No. 2 kept herself in front and broke the Russian's serve one last time to win the match 6-2, 6-2.
Stephens defeated Karolina Pliskova and Varvara Gracheva to make it to the third round, where she was up against Yulia Putintseva. The American saved five break points for a gutsy hold of serve to begin the match. She broke her opponent's serve in the next game to go 2-0 up.
Meanwhile, Stephens squandered her advantage immediately, but snagged another break in the eighth game to lead 5-3. She faced some adversity while trying to close out the set, but managed to get the job done on her fourth set point. The 30-year-old lost the plot in the second set as she fell behind 5-0.
Stephens staged a late resistance by claiming the next three games to make it 5-3. Putintseva nipped her comeback in the bud and served out the set after that. The American dropped serve at the start of the third set, but recovered by claiming the next three games.
Putintseva briefly halted her momentum by securing a break of serve to make it 3-2. Stephens then retaliated by sweeping the next three games to win the match 6-3, 3-6, 6-2.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Sloane Stephens head-to-head
Sabalenka leads Stephens 3-0 in the head-to-head. She won their previous encounter at the 2022 San Diego Open in three sets.
Aryna Sabalenka vs Sloane Stephens odds
(Odds are sourced from BetMGM)
Aryna Sabalenka vs Sloane Stephens prediction
Sabalenka continued to bulldoze her way through the draw as she racked up another impressive win. Her serve worked beautifully against Rakhimova as she won 81% of her first serve points. She also struck 27 winners, while committing 19 unforced errors.
Putintseva has always managed to make Stephens' life miserable, but this time the latter was able to get the upper hand. The American's serve let her down slightly and her unforced error count was marginally higher than the number of winners she hit.
Sabalenka has a perfect winning record against Stephens, but all of their previous matches have gone the distance. This will be their first meeting on clay, a surface that the American is more comfortable on. She's also a forced to be reckoned with in Paris, having made it to the final here back in 2018.
Sabalenka has been the better player since the start of the season, but Stephens has been gathering some momentum of late. The Belarusian's movement on the surface isn't that good and she has been vulnerable to drop shots.
If Stephens is able to wrong foot Sabalenka from time to time, she could manage to come out on top. This is a match that could go down to the wire, but given the American's record at the venue, she'll be favored to come through this clash.
Pick: Sloane Stephens to win in three sets.