NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Sloane Stephens has gained a lot of confidence. Her game is picking up, too.
The 20-year-old American, ranked 17th in the world and looking for her first WTA tournament title, moved into the quarterfinals of the New Haven Open on Wednesday night with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-1 victory over Germany's Julia Georges.
After being dominated in the second set, Stephens won the next four games and cruised to the win.
"I think me being able to go out and play a third set strong like that is the difference between me today and a year ago," Stephens said. "I just think that I'm at a point where I go out there and I'm like, 'I'm going to win.'"
She is one of just three seeded players to advance past the second round. The others are defending champion Petra Kvidova, who beat American qualifier Alison Riske 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3; and four-time champion Caroline Wozniacki, who turned back Italy's Karin Knapp 6-1, 7-5.
Top-seeded Sara Errani fell to Russia's Ekaterina Makarova 7-5, 6-1, becoming the fifth of the tournament's eight seeds to lose in the final WTA tuneup before next week's U.S. Open.
"The good thing is that if you lose, you have more time to prepare there, if not, you have more confidence," Errani said. "I hope the court there will be different."
Stephens and Wozniacki, who has won the event four of the last five years, will meet in the marquee matchup of the quarterfinals on Thursday.
But Stephen's said she isn't feeling much pressure, despite knowing she will come into that match and next week's U.S. Open with the label of the next great U.S. star.
"You kind of have to go with it and accept the responsibility, or whatever you might call it," she said. "But I think, in all, it's a good thing."
Wozniacki, a former No. 1 player in the world, cruised through her first set with Knapp, then fought through some health issues to hold on for the win. Wozniacki, who has been battling a cold this week, called for a trainer after experiencing some dizziness in the 90-degree temperatures while up 3-2 in the second set. The Danish star dropped the next two games before rallying.