Indian Wells - Sloane Stephens rallied from a two-game deficit in the second set to beat Chanelle Scheepers 7-5, 7-5 in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open on Wednesday night.
The victory in the 1-hour, 39-minute match snapped the 21-year-old American's three-match losing streak and set up a second-round meeting with 13th-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany.
Stephens reached the quarter-finals last year when ranked 18th in the world. But she fell out of the top 20 after Wimbledon, missed much of the fall with a left wrist injury and has slipped to No 42.
Stephens was the last of the seven Americans in action on an overcast opening day in the two-week event at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
She was joined in the second round by Alison Riske, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia; wildcard Sachia Vickery, whose 7-6 (6), 7-6 (6) win over Alla Kudryavtseva left the Russian in tears; and wild-card Irina Falconi, a 7-6 (6), 6-4 winner over Croatia's Ajla Tomljanovic.
Louisa Chirico, another US wildcard ranked 148th in the world, lost to Donna Vekic of Croatia, 6-4, 6-3; Nicole Gibbs lost a 6-3, 7-5 decision to Peru's Monica Puig; and Grace Min was beaten by Marina Erakovic of New Zealand, 6-3, 6-1.
In other matches, Heather Watson of Britain topped Julia Goerges of Germany 6-4, 5-7, 6-3; Elena Vesnina of Russia beat qualifier Kateryna Kozlova of Ukraine 6-3, 6-3; qualifier Daria Gavrilova of Russia ousted Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain 6-3, 6-4; and Mona Barthels of Germany outlasted Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.Results on Wednesday in the ATP and WTA BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells:
Monica Niculescu (ROM) bt Aleksandra Krunic (SRB) 6-2, 6-1
Donna Vekic (CRO) bt Louisa Chirico (USA) 6-4, 6-3
Mona Barthel (GER) bt Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) 6-3, 5-7, 6-4
Elena Vesnina (RUS) bt Kateryna Kozlova (UKR) 6-3, 6-3
Daria Gavrilova (RUS) bt Silvia Soler (ESP) 6-3, 6-4
Irina Falconi (USA) bt Ajla Tomljanovic (CRO) 7-6 (8/6), 6-4
Heather Watson (GBR) bt Julia Goerges (GER) 6-4, 5-7, 6-3
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) bt Kurumi Nara (JPN) 4-6, 6-3, 6-2
Katerina Siniakova (CZE) bt Evgeniya Rodina (RUS) 6-3, 6-3
Marina Erakovic (NZL) bt Grace Min (USA) 6-3, 6-1
Sachia Vickery (USA) bt Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (8/6)
Lara Arruabarrena (ESP) bt Magdalna Rybrikov (SVK) 6-0, 6-1
Monica Puig (PUR) bt Nicole Gibbs (USA) 6-3, 7-5
Alison Riske (USA) bt Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 6-2, 6-3
Sloane Stephens (USA) bt Chanelle Scheepers (RSA) 7-5, 7-5
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) bt Johanna Larsson (SWE) 6-4, 6-3