NEW YORK – Once a sure bet to stick around for a while at Grand Slam tournaments, Sloane Stephens of the United States stumbled to her earliest loss at the U.S. Open, upset in the second round Wednesday by 96th-ranked Johanna Larsson.
"Everyone goes through times like this," said Stephens, who was seeded 21st. "I'm not the first person and won't be the last."
Down a set and a break, Larsson rallied to win 5-7, 6-4, 6-2. The 26-year-old Swede had been 0-4 at Flushing Meadows before this year.
The match ended on Stephens' 63rd unforced error.
Stephens, 21, reached at least the fourth round at six consecutive major tournaments starting with the 2013 Australian Open, when she stunned Serena Williams to make the semifinals. The longest active streak at the time, it ended with a first-round loss at Wimbledon this summer.
She had advanced to at least the third round in three previous trips to the U.S. Open.
Venus sticks around
Two-time U.S. Open champion Venus Williams reached the third round for the first time since 2010, beating 78th-ranked Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 6-1, 6-4.
The 19th-seeded Williams, at 34 the oldest woman left in the draw, had departed in the second round at Flushing Meadows three years in a row.
Sharapova moves on
Maria Sharapova rallied from a set down to beat 95th-ranked Alexandra Dulgheru 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Sharapova overcame nine double-faults and 46 unforced errors to improve her record in three-set matches this year to 17-6.
The Russian star won her second French Open title in June but hasn't looked all that sharp since. Still, she hasn't lost in the second round at the U.S. Open since her Flushing Meadows debut in 2003.
• Fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska became the first top-10 player to be knocked out of the tournament, losing to 39th-ranked Peng Shuai of China 6-3, 6-4.
• Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych swept 2001 U.S. Open champ Lleyton Hewitt 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
Bellis back on court
Fifteen-year-old CiCi Bellis is scheduled to play unseeded and 48th-ranked Zarina Diyas on Thursday afternoon.
Bellis set American tennis abuzz Tuesday with her first-round victory. She beat 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova in three sets, becoming the youngest main-draw winner since Anna Kournikova, also 15, in 1996.
Caroline Wozniacki got her blonde braid caught in her racket while hitting a forehand in her second-round victory over Aliaksandra Sasnovich, and she gamely tried to hit a backhand on the next shot, with her hair still entangled. "I almost took my head off," Wozniakci told reporters later. "It was really tangled up good, so I didn't have a chance."