French Open: Caroline Wozniacki overcomes Svetlana Kuznetsova in three-set thriller to reach second quarterfinal in Paris

11th seed Caroline Wozniacki became the first player to book their place in the quarterfinals of the French Open, after defeating the 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 in just a little over two hours.

French Open: Caroline Wozniacki overcomes Svetlana Kuznetsova in three-set thriller to reach second quarterfinal in Paris
Wozniacki is a dark horse to win the French Open (Photo by Eric Feferberg / Getty)
Caroline Wozniacki
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Svetlana Kuznetsova

On Day 8 of the French Open, Caroline Wozniacki, the former world number one began proceedings on Court Philippe Chatrier. The Dane had to play three days in a row as her third round match with Catherine Bellis was halted on Friday due to rain. Nevertheless, Wozniacki was in fine form as she overcame eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in their 14th encounter. The 11th seed led their head-to-head 3-2 at Grand Slams, 7-6 overall and it was their first meeting on clay. The Dane will compete in her second French Open quarterfinal on Tuesday, and first since 2010. She will play Jelena Ostapenko or 23rd seed and 2010 finalist Sam Stosur in the quarterfinals.

Wozniacki shines in the opening set

Both players showed their quality in their opening service games as the opening two games lasted 16 minutes in total. The 11th seed had a break point in Kuznetsova's service game but she failed to convert it. The former world number one had a comfortable service game in her next game. However, Kuznetsova struggled on her next service game as the two-time US Open finalist created her first break point with a backhand winner down the line.

The Russian saved the first but she was unable to save the second as Wozniacki took a 3-1 lead with a sweet forehand winner down the line. The Dane had another lengthy game in her next service game but she consolidated the break and stretched out to a healthy 4-1 advantage.

The two-time Grand Slam champion was looking to get back into this opening set as she stretched to a 40-15 lead. Moreover, the Russian was unable to convert one of the game points. The two players continued to trade from the baseline but two unforced errors from Kuznetsova handed Wozniacki a double break.

Kuznetsova was unable to sustain a high level of tennis (Photo by Aurelien Meunier / Getty)
Kuznetsova was unable to sustain a high level of tennis (Photo by Aurelien Meunier / Getty)

The former world number one continued to serve well, and her backhand was firing in this game. Furthermore, the two-time Grand Slam champion should have leveled the game at 30-30 with Wozniacki at the net, and a backhand passing shot sailed into the net, handed Wozniacki her first break point. The Dane converted it by virtue of Kuznetsova's forehand breaking down and committing an unforced error in the net.

Kuznetsova survives to take the match into a deciding set

It seemed as though, the wind had sailed out of Kuznetsova, and the 2009 champion's quest for a second title seemed to be rapidly fading. Wozniacki broke easily to have a set and a break advantage. However, the Dane played one of her worst games of the match, and her break advantage was easily snuffed out with the Russian breaking back to love to restore parity at 1-1.

Both players remained untroubled on serve, as the game continued to ebb and flow with service holders, and grueling clay court rallies which the former world number one did well to produce winners against Kuznetsova. The match was leveled at 3-3, where Wozniacki had a chance to break the Russian at 0-30.

However, Kuznetsova continued to step into the court, and she forced the 11th seed to commit errors which gave the two-time Grand Slam champion a 4-3 lead. The former world number two looked increasingly likely to serve for the second set as she had a break point on Wozniacki's serve. The Russian failed to convert it with a tame backhand unforced error in the net, letting the Dane off the hook, temporarily. The 11th seed held serve to have the game leveled at 4-4.

The Dane came through some tough moments in the match (Photo by Christophe Simon / Getty)
The Dane came through some tough moments in the match (Photo by Christophe Simon / Getty)

The former world number two knew that she had to hold onto her next service game as Wozniacki would have had the chance to serve for the match. Once again, the game was gifted for the Russian as Wozniacki's level had dropped and she committed unforced errors.

Furthermore, the match headed to a one-set shootout when Kuznetsova created her first set point chance with a scorching backhand winner down the line. The 2009 champion claimed the second set with a forehand winner down the line, crosscourt, taking the second set, 6-4.

Wozniacki books her spot in the quarterfinals for the second time

The good news for Kuznetsova, for breaking Wozniacki's serve to take the second set, meant that she would serve first in the final set. However, she was broken by committing an untimely double fault which gave Wozniacki a 1-0 lead.

The former world number one consolidated the break with a good first serve, and a forehand winner placed in the corner to lead 2-0. The alarm bells were ringing for Kuznetsova as the Russian quickly found herself at 0-40 down on her serve. She came out on top in a 15-shot rally and a sweet forehand winner down the line. The Dane was stranded in the corner, and Kuznetsova saved the second break point with another forehand winner. However, the 26-year-old gained the double break advantage, forcing the error from the Russian.

It seemed as though that Wozniacki was in the ascendency but the veteran didn't give up as she retrieved one of the break backs, and she held her next service game to love, reducing the arrears to just one game at 3-2. Moreover, there was a key moment in the match, which could have shifted the momentum. Kuznetsova created a break back point with a forehand winner in a gruelling rally. Wozniacki got off the hook, and the finishing line was in sight with a 4-2 lead.

The eighth seed was bitterly disappointed not to have broken back, and it was evident on her next service game as she committed unforced errors with Wozniacki regaining the double break advantage to lead 5-2.

Kuznetsova and Wozniacki have a good amount of respect for each other (Photo by Eric Feferberg / Getty)
Kuznetsova and Wozniacki have a good amount of respect for each other (Photo by Eric Feferberg / Getty)

The former world number one would have been pleased to have had an easy service game for the match, and the Dane served it out to love with a backhand winner down the line. It was Wozniacki's first victory over Kuznetsova at a Slam which wasn't the US Open, as Kuznetsova had beaten Wozniacki at Wimbledon last year, and at the Australian Open in 2013. It was a confidence boosting, 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 victory for the Dane, who will be in the quarterfinals in Paris for the first time since 2010.

By the numbers

The first match of the day on Court Philippe Chatrier was entertaining for the crowd. Both players produced a staggering 26 winners. However, Kuznetsova committed 41 unforced errors in contrast to Wozniacki's 26. The Dane got 70 percent of her first serves in and won 66 percent of the points on it. Kuznetsova also got 70 percent of her first serves in but only won 47 percent of the points on it. The 11th seed broke the Russian's serve, six times out of ten chances, whilst The 2009 champion broke Wozniacki's serve, three times out of six.