14th seed Elena Vesnina survived a huge scare against Brazilian qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia, winning 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in the opening round of the French Open. The Indian Wells champion needed 2 hours, 13 minutes to see off the youngster.
Vesnina takes the first set comfortably
It was the perfect start for the Russian as she broke in the opening game with some heavy hitting off of the ground. After nearly achieving a double break, strong serving gave her a 3-1 lead. More solid returning eventually earned her a second break and a 4-1 lead.
The Brazilian was having trouble coping on her own return and she could do nothing to trouble Vesnina's serve as the Russian held for 5-1. After Haddad Maia stayed alive with a hold of her own, the 14th seed comfortably held to 15 to seal the opening set in just half an hour.
Haddad Maia responds to take the second set
Surprisingly, the 20-year old broke first in the second set and after a battling hold in which she saved two break points, the lead was 3-0. Haddad Maia nearly broke again in a marathon fourth game, but wasted six break chances and she paid for her missed opportunity when Vesnina broke back in the seventh game.
Again, the Brazilian broke, this time to love for a 5-3 lead and gave herself a second chance to serve out the set. This time, she was able to hold, taking it on her second chance to send the match to a deciding set after 1 hour, 20 minutes of play.
Vesnina takes close third set to advance
It was the Russian who was dictating play as her offensive game was in high gear to begin the final set, holding to love. After pushing Haddad Maia to deuce in her first service game, Vesnina saved a break point to hold and take a 2-1 lead.
She was handed the break on a silver platter, the Brazilian committing three straight unforced errors from 30-15 up to give Vesnina a 3-1 lead. A second straight break gave her a 5-1 lead and she seemed to be safely through.
Haddad Maia made one last push, breaking the 14th seed as she served for the match. Holding her own serve to draw within 5-3, incredibly the underdog broke again and it was 5-4, back on serve. The Brazilian couldn't complete the comeback and Vesnina broke to love to take the nerve-wracking encounter in 2 hours, 12 minutes to advance to a second round matchup with American Varvara Lepchenko.