Kristina Mladenovic, No.13 seed, kept French hopes of a home champion alive as she emerged the victor in a thrillingly close match against American Shelby Rogers on Suzanne-Lenglen Court.
In the theatrical style she has made her trademark, Kristina Mladenovic, the darling of the home crowd, squeezed past the quietly defiant American Shelby Rogers in two hours and 46 minutes of tight and often scintillating tennis to reach the last 16. In doing so, she keeps alive her hopes of becoming the first Frenchwoman to lift the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen since Mary Pierce in 2000.
The No.13 seed has two Roland-Garros titles to her name – the girls’ singles crown in 2009 and the women’s doubles title which she won last year with compatriot Caroline Garcia – but she was seeking to progress beyond the third round here for the first time. It seemed a modest aim considering she is also many commentators’ pick to emerge champion in this year of the Wide Open Women’s Draw.
Arriving with a career-high ranking of No.14 in the world, courtesy of a great run in reaching clay-court finals in Stuttgart and Madrid, “Kiki” showed tremendous mental resolution in holding back the solid, big-hitting game of the 24-year-old from Charleston, South Carolina - who was a quarter-finalist at Roland-Garros last year - as well as a forbidding front of black storm clouds.
The 7-5, 4-6, 8-6 score illustrated her propensity for playing on the thinnest possible line between triumph and disaster, between calm and storm, bold winners and wild error. The players had to report to court much earlier than expected following the shocking retirement of David Goffin in the first set of his meeting with Horacio Zaballos – and at one point left the court for no longer than five minutes when some rain appeared.