Paris - Svetlana Kuznetsova led a seniors surge into the French Open last 16
on Saturday with a marathon win over Petra Kvitova as Roland Garros lost
the fourth of its top five seeds.
Kuznetsova, 28, won a
three-hour 13 minute thriller to defeat fifth-seeded Kvitova 6-7 (3/7),
6-1, 9-7 in the longest match of the women's tournament.
2009 champion capitalised on Kvitova's 65 unforced errors and 10 double
faults to set-up a fourth round clash with another Czech, 27-year-old
Former Wimbledon champion Kvitova, a semi-finalist
in 2012, had enjoyed a 3-0 career edge over the Russian going into
Saturday's clash, but her efforts were undermined by twice needing
medical timeouts to treat a back and leg injury.
She saved two
match points in the 12th game of the decider but the inconsistencies
which continue to plague her big-hitting game saw her twice fail to
serve out the tie in the 10th and 14th games of the third set.
knew I was going to give everything I could and run every mile, every
metre I could, and put as many balls back and try to be aggressive
because if you watch the match, Petra was inside the court and I was
next to the fence," said Kuznetsova who was also US Open champion in
"I left everything I could out there. I came up with a win, but I was very close to the loss, as well."
playing in her 12th consecutive Roland Garros, will next face Kvitova's
Fed Cup teammate Safarova who put out Serb 11th seed Ana Ivanovic, the
2008 champion, 6-3, 6-3.
It was left-handed Safarova's fifth
successive victory against Ivanovic as she booked a place in the last 16
in Paris for the first time since 2007.
"I was pressuring Ana
into her backhand side and then attacking the forehand side, which was
working well. I was serving decent. So overall the game was really
good," said Safarova, who is 3-3 with Kuznetsova in a rivalry stretching
back seven years.
Simona Halep, the highest-ranked woman left, made the last 16 for the
first time as the Romanian continued to escape the Roland Garros
The 22-year-old brushed aside Spain's Maria-Teresa
Torro-Flor 6-3, 6-0 and next tackles 15th seeded American Sloane
Stephens. Halep, 22, has lost just 11 games in three rounds in Paris.
contrast, the failure of Serena Williams, Li Na and Agnieszka Radwanska
to get beyond the third round marked the first time in the Open era
that the top three seeds had gone out before the last 16.
Halep, relegated to Court 2 for her third round match, finished off Torro-Flor in just 64 minutes.
feel stronger now than last year, and I started to play more aggressive
like I did in juniors when I won here in 2008," said Halep, who has
collected all of her seven career titles since the start of 2013.
"So I found my good way to play, and I found a way to be relaxed on court and just to take the pleasure without pressure."
21, reached the fourth round for a third successive year thanks to a
6-3, 6-4 win over Russian left-hander Ekaterina Makarova.
sixth seed Jelena Jankovic, a three-time semi-finalist, brushed aside
Romania's Sorana Cirstea, a quarter-finalist in 2009, in straight sets
6-1, 6-2 and the 29-year-old will next face Sara Errani, the Italian
Errani, 27, who was runner-up to Maria Sharapova in 2012, routed Israel's Julia Glushko 6-0, 6-1 in just 52 minutes.
Kristina Mladenovic, who put out Li Na in the first round, hopes to
make the last 16 of a major for the first time when she faces German
28th seed Andrea Petkovic.
Petkovic, 26, won their only other meeting just down the road from Roland Garros at the Paris Indoor event earlier this year.
winner of Saturday's match will face either Spain's Silvia
Soler-Espinosa or Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens, the world number 148.