Stephens crashes out in Washington

Stunning comeback from Paire to reach Winston-Salem final

Sloane Stephens’ hopes for a good start to the hardcourt season suffered a blow on Wednesday as she lost in the second round of the Washington Open to Andrea Petkovic.

The number two seed and reigning US Open champion has been wildly inconsistent this season, reaching the final at Roland Garros and winning in Miami, but also suffering several first round defeats.

Here, she was back to her frustrating worst as she lost in three sets to the 91st-ranked German, the second seed going down 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

“Hopefully,” Stephens said after the loss, “some things connect in the next couple of weeks.”

“I didn’t serve great, but that’s not what lost me the match,” she added. “She just played better than me.”

In other action, the USA’s Jennifer Brady advanced after beating Russia’s Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-1, 6-4, while China’s Zheng Saisai also progressed after defeating Katie Swan of Britain 6-2, 6-4.

Lucky loser Ysaline Bonaventure of Belgium, appearing after the withdrawal of top seed Caroline Wozniacki, took advantage of her fortune to beat Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 6-3, 6-3.