Tennis-Stephens lifts U.S. spirits at French Open, Ferrer powers on

PARIS Thu May 29, 2014 12:20pm BST

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PARIS May 29 (Reuters) - 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.

Last year's runner-up David Ferrer of Spain, the fifth seed, bulldozed his way into the last 32 by demolishing Italian Simone Bolelli 6-2 6-3 6-2.

The fifth seed, who could take on eight-times champion Rafa Nadal in the quarter-finals, will next play Argentine Juan Monaco or Italian 32nd seed Andreas Seppi.

"I am ready for the next round and was very happy with my performance, especially with my consistency," he said.

"My season on clay has been good (when asked about beating Nadal on clay this season). I have a good feel but I'm focusing on the moment."

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.

In the men's draw, Croatian 16th seed Ivo Karlovic reached the third round with a 7-5 6-3 6-4 win over Andreas Haider-Maurer.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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