Tennis news - Sloane Stephens battles to second-round victory over Timea Babos
Sloane Stephens made it through to the third round of the Australian Open with a reasonably comfortable straight-sets victory over Timea Babos.
The fifth seed made light work of her opponent from Belarus, winning the match 6-3, 6-1.
She was made to work hard in the first set after Babos had pegged Stephens back from 3-1 up to 3-3. But the 2017 US Open champion didn't let that bother her and produced a much more ruthless display in the second and final set.
Stephens, who was playing against her junior doubles partner in Babos, is aiming to go far in the tournament after failing in previous years to match her best finish at Melbourne Park as a semi-finalist in 2013.
Babos faced 23 break points and managed to save 18 of them, otherwise the match would have been over quicker than its elapsed time of one hour, 35 minutes. Stephens captured junior doubles titles with Babos at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010.
Hungary's Timea Babos hits a return against StephensGetty Images
Stephens said she knew what to expect from Babos but that didn't make it any smoother. 'I just had to hang in there and be patient,' she said. Stephens will next play Petra Martic after the 31st seed overcame Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-4 7-5.
"I just had to hang in there and be patient and think I did that well today. There's no better place to play than here at the beginning of the year. It's a little bit toasty but it's really beautiful here."
Both players broke one another's serve with plenty of hard-hitting shots in a topsy-turvy first set but Stephens started to take a grip on proceedings when she broke Babos in the first game of the second set on Rod Laver Arena.