By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – Sloane Stephens is not only engaged to her fiance, she is now also fully committed to her new coach as she looks to win the French Open after reaching the final last year.
The American seventh seed, runner-up in 2018, eased into the third round at Roland Garros on Wednesday with a 6-1 7-6(3) win over Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain.
Earlier this month, the 26-year-old, who claimed her first Grand Slam title at the 2017 U.S. Open, announced that Sven Groeneveld was joining her coaching team.
The Dutchman, who notably coached Mary Pierce, Ana Ivanovic and Maria Sharapova, was picked after a patient search process by Stephens, who also announced her engagement to U.S. soccer player Jozy Altidore last month.
“I waited as long as possible until I found the right person. Not that I didn’t care about the results when I didn’t have a coach, but when I pick someone the commitment is going to be there and I’m going to have to really push myself,” Stephens told reporters.
“So I wanted to be sure I made a good decision from the very beginning.”
Stephens split with her previous coach, Kamau Murray, during the 2018 off season and took a somewhat holistic approach to finding a replacement.
“I have a really good bullshit radar, so if it doesn’t sound right, it’s probably not right,” she explained.
“But I think you have to kind of have a vibe with the person. You have to pick up on their energy.
“I think with Sven, we had sat down and had a full-blown conversation and I was like I’m going to get my shit together before I start working with you and then with you I’ll have a clean slate.
“I’ll be ready to learn, I’ll be able to take in whatever you’re saying.”
Stephens, who for her first tournament under Groeneveld reached the semi-finals at the Madrid Open, next faces Slovenian qualifier Polona Hercog.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)