Ask WTA free spirit Bethanie Mattek-Sands about her hair color, and she will tell you it is faded.
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“It was pretty bright purple and teal, it’s blonde. Well, you guys probably couldn’t see, but I have like shaved partially back here,” she said pointing to the area around her temple. “So that’s kind of my experiment for now but I actually might go back to blonde normal color.”
But the 28-year old veteran refuses to fade away. The world’s No. 113 player blasted No. 16 Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-0 in the Family Circle Cup main event Tuesday night on Billie Jean King Court.
Stephens is the highest seed in the tournament to fall. She was the No. 4 seed and lasted just one match.
“You could never be surprised about good tennis,” Mattek-Sands said. “I feel like I played very well today. Sloane is a tough competitor. She has a lot of confidence this year. She is a great player, and on top of that I lost to her twice last year, so it was a little bit of a revenge match for me.”
It marked the first time Mattek-Sands defeated the 20-year-old Stephens. Stephens defeated Mattek-Sands twice last year: in Rome and at Roland Garros. Both victories came on red clay.
Mattek-Sands is playing in her sixth tournament in Charleston, and Tuesday’s match was a welcome relief after Monday’s 3-hour, 47-minute marathon victory against Anastasia Rodionova.
The recovery phase to get ready for Tuesday night’s match was intense.
“You are going to laugh because, I mean, I did 20 minutes of ice bath, then I did like an Epsom salt bath later,” Mattek-Sands said. “Then I slept 12 hours, got up, ate, took a nap for another four hours. So it’s a lot of sleeping. But I actually felt pretty good. It was nice to have a night match. It gave me a little bit more time, but I know I have a day off so the recovery will be nice.”
Another Tuesday shocker was qualifier Jessica Pegula’s 7-6, 6-1 victory over No. 8 seed Mona Barthel of Germany in the final day-session match played on Billie Jean King Court.
Pegula wore a Buffalo Sabres hockey T-shirt to the press conference, and for good reason. Her father, Terry, owns the team. But on this day, Pegula was all tennis, other than her attire.
This year marks her third and best appearance in Charleston.
“Well, last year I played I had the flu really bad, so that wasn’t good, and the year before I was pretty young,” Pegula said. “I think I got a wild card and I qualified. But I don’t know, I came in this tournament, thinking that I was going to do well, kind of. I have been kind of struggling lately because I was sick and hurt and stuff, but I have worked really hard the past few weeks, so I think I just came in with adifferent mindset this time to really do well.”
Jankovic, the No. 9 seed, beat Daniel Island crowd favorite Melanie Oudin 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
“It’s something about her game,” Jankovic said of Oudin’s past performances. “I’ve lost to her but (today) is actually our first time on clay. We played on grass two times, so it’s a different surface. Sometimes when you lose against someone, it’s always tricky to play the opponents. She has this game that I don’t really like and doesn’t really suit me. I always have trouble with her.”
Jankovic reached the semifinal of the Sony Open last week in Key Biscayne, Fla.
“I love playing on clay, but today I wasn’t happy with the way the way I was moving so I have to improve,” she said.
Follow Philip M. Bowman on Twitter: @PandCPhil