Strasbourg - Top seed Madison Keys has staged a remarkable comeback to book her spot in the quarter-finals of the WTA Strasbourg Open on Wednesday.
The big-hitting 20-year-old was trailing a set and 5-0 down in windy conditions in northeastern France but somehow found a way past Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/0).
"I was definitely thinking that I would be heading to Paris," said Keys, ahead of her French Open campaign next week.
"Mirjana was playing well and I wasn't playing great, and I was just really happy that I was able to find it and figure it out."
Keys, who won her first title on grass in Eastbourne last year and pushed Serena Williams in the semi-finals of the Australian Open in January, clawed her way back into the tie.
Some blistering backhands at 5-4 in the second set forced a tie-break which Keys won as her rival's game unravelled with a string of unforced errors.
In a drama-filled third set Lucic-Baroni, 33, failed to serve out the match for a third time at 5-4, following some powerful forehands from the American.
The Croat, who beat Venus Williams in Montreal last year to lift her third WTA title, held on for another tie-break, but an increasingly-confident Keys closed out the contest.
"For sure my mental toughness was important," said Keys.
"Even at 5-0 I was trying hard and putting in all of my effort. My game was there, it was just a couple of points here or there that hadn't been going my way," she explained.
"It was a battle to the very, very end, and I'm very relieved with this victory. Hopefully I can build on it and play better tomorrow."
She next plays France's Kristina Mladenovic who got past American Alison Riske 7-6 (7/4) as Russia's Elena Vesnina also advanced past fourth seed Alize Cornet of France 3-6, 6-0, 6-3.
Results from the WTA Strasbourg Open on Wednesday (x denotes seed):
Madison Keys (USA x1) bt Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO) 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/0)
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) bt Alison Riske (USA) 7-6 (7/4), 6-2
Elena Vesnina (RUS) bt Alize Cornet (FRA x4) 3-6, 6-0, 6-3
Virginie Razzano (FRA) bt Francesca Schiavone (ITA) 6-2, 6-3