Some players struggle to make the transition from the junior to senior ranks, but rising American star Sloane Stephens is having no such problems.
The 19-year-old No. 25 seed moved into the second round of the 2013 Australian Open with a 6-1 6-1 demolition of Romanian Simona Halep in 47 minutes on Tuesday.
Stephens meant business against Halep, the world No. 45, storming through the opening set while conceding only nine points in 21 minutes. Stephens hit nine winners to one, with her powerful shot-making ability on display for the crowd on Margaret Court Arena.
Stephens had a breakthrough year in 2012, reaching the fourth round at the French Open, making her top 50 debut and finishing the year ranked 38.
She has started the 2013 season in blistering fashion, reaching the quarter-finals in Brisbane and semi-finals in Hobart in the lead-up to the Australian Open to move to a career-high ranking of 25 and earn a grand slam seeding for the first time in her career.
This match, between two of the up-and-coming players on the tour, failed to reach expectations.
The 21-year-old Romanian, a former junior world No. 1 who reached a career-high ranking of 37 in 2012, didn’t have any answers for Stephens.
Halep managed to get one break back at 4-0 down in the second set, but any thoughts of a comeback were dashed when Stephens broke back immediately.
The American then served it out, sealing the victory with a forehand winner, her 12th of the match.
Stephens won 84 per cent of points on first serve and was strong on return, making 89 per cent.
Halep, by contrast, only made 58 per cent of returns and was hurt by 18 unforced errors.
Stephens was happy with her performance.
“I had a terrible warm-up this morning and I was like ‘oh, this is going to be a disaster’, but it was good. I had fun,” she said.
The American said she was not feeling any extra pressure to perform in her first grand slam as a seeded player.
“I thought it would be like ‘oh my god I’m seeded’ but honestly it is just like it is nothing new,” she said.
Stephens next faces Kristina Mladenovic of France, who beat Hungary’s Timea Babos 6-3 4-6 11-9 in a marathon match where the final set lasted 90 minutes.