French Open - Stephens lifts U.S. spirits in Paris

In the absence of the Williams sisters, 15th seed Sloane Stephens raised American morale at the French Open by easing past Slovenian Polona Hercog 6-1 6-3 on Thursday to reach the third round.

French Open - Stephens lifts U.S. spirits in Paris

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Sloane Stephens of the U.S. acknowledges spectators after winning her women's singles match against Polona Hercog of Slovenia at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris May 29, 2014. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe (FRANCE - Tags: SP

Stephens followed her teenage compatriot Taylor Townsend, who on Wednesday became the youngest player to go past the second round at Roland Garros since 2009 on the day world No.1 Serena Williams and her elder sister Venus were knocked out.

The 21-year-old Stephens blazed through the opening set before running into a spot of bother midway through the second as Hercog upped her game but the American ended the contest on her second match point with a crosscourt forehand winner.

She will next face Russian 22nd seed Ekaterina Makarova or compatriot Coco Vandeweghe.

Sixth seed Jelena Jankovic proved strong on serve to hold off Japanese Kurumi Nara, who collapsed in the second set in a 7-5 6-0 defeat by the Serbian who is a three-times semi-finalist in Paris.

"It was not easy, she is returning a lot of balls and the court is heavy and the conditions generally are heavy," Jankovic said.

"There are still a lot of great players in the draw, every round is going to be tough. The opponents get more and more difficult."

Next up for the former world No. 1 is Brazil's Teliana Pereira or Romanian 26th seed Sorana Cirstea.

Former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, the Russian 27th seed, laboured to a 7-6(5) 6-3 win over Italian Camila Giorgi to set up a meeting with either Czech fifth seed Petra Kvitova or New Zealand's Marina Erakovic.

Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic backed up her big first-round win. Having removed women's third seed Li Na she survived an injury scare to beat American Alison Riske 7-6(5) 3-6 6-3.

Round 2 results:

4-Simona Halep (Romania) beat Heather Watson (Britain) 6-2 6-4

5-Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) beat Marina Erakovic (New Zealand) 6-4 6-4

6-Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) beat Kurumi Nara (Japan) 7-5 6-0

10-Sara Errani (Italy) beat Dinah Pfizenmaier (Germany) 6-2 6-4

15-Sloane Stephens (U.S.) beat Polona Hercog (Slovenia) 6-1 6-3

Julia Glushko (Israel) beat 21-Kirsten Flipkens (Belgium) 6-4 3-6 6-4

22-Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) beat Coco Vandeweghe (U.S.) 6-4 6-3

23-Lucie Safarova (Czech Republic) beat Casey Dellacqua (Australia) 6-1 5-7 6-3

Kiki Bertens (Netherlands) beat 24-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Russia) 5-7 6-4 3-0 (Pavlyuchenkova retired)

26-Sorana Cirstea (Romania) beat Teliana Pereira (Brazil) 6-2 7-5

27-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) beat Camila Giorgi (Italy) 7-6(5) 6-3

28-Andrea Petkovic (Germany) beat Stefanie Voegele (Switzerland) 6-2 4-6 6-2

Kristina Mladenovic (France) beat Alison Riske (U.S.) 7-6(5) 3-6 6-3

Paula Ormaechea (Argentina) beat Monica Niculescu (Romania) 2-6 7-5 6-2

Pauline Parmentier (France) beat Yaroslava Shvedova (Kazakhstan) 1-6 6-3 6-3

Maria Teresa Torro (Spain) beat Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) 6-2 2-6 6-2

Silvia Soler Espinosa (Spain) beat Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium) 6-2 6-4

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