Top seed Sofia Kenin was on the brink of defeat but eventually overcame qualifier Jaqueline Cristian, having survived a match point, to reach the quarter-finals of the Open 6ème Sens – Métropole de Lyon on Thursday; while No 2 seed Kristina Mladenovic was upset in the second round.
I was pretty frustrated the whole match. She was playing with no pressure. She qualified, so I knew she would come out playing some really good tennis. Obviously I didn’t feel my game that well, I couldn’t find my rhythm, but I just tried to fight through. I got the win – it’s a relief and I’m happy. Sofia Kenin
Kenin was a set and a break down against the Romanian World No 174, but forced a deciding set with two quick breaks.
The third set was also a tussle, Cristian blinking first as she was broken for 5-3, but Kenin dropped a game as she served for the match before the American finally won, 6-7(5) 7-5 6-4, in 2 hours and 31 minutes.
“I was pretty frustrated the whole match,’ admitted Kenin. “She was playing with no pressure.
“She qualified, so I knew she would come out playing some really good tennis.
“Obviously I didn’t feel my game that well, I couldn’t find my rhythm, but I just tried to fight through.
“I got the win – it’s a relief and I’m happy.”
The pair, both 21 years old and just 5 months apart in age, were erstwhile junior peers and former doubles partners, reaching the 2018 Strasbourg quarter-finals together.
Their career paths have diverged at pro level and Cristian, the champion of the prestigious Les Petits As U14 tournament in 2012, had posted only two WTA main draw wins prior to this week, both as a wildcard in her home tournament of Bucharest, and had not faced a Top 30 opponent until now.
Cristian came into the encounter with 11 wins in her last 12 matches and had dropped just 10 games over 3 previous matches in Lyon.
Kenin has struggled for form since winning her maiden Grand Slam, the Australian Open, at the start of February, and made first-round exits in both Dubai and Doha.
The American broke Cristian early, but a late flurry of breaks saw the opener go to a tiebreak, with the Romanian taking the set.
The qualifier then broke in game 5 and found herself with a match point as she was serving for the match at 5-4, but Kenin hit back hard to break back, and then broke again after holding serve.
Kenin will go on to face Oceane Dodin from France, who had a walkover against Switzerland’s Jil Belen Teichmann, while second seed Kristina Mladenovic, another Frenchwoman, was dispatched in straight sets by Germany’s Anna-Lena Friedsam, 6-3 6-3.
After her win, Friedsam said: “It was a very good match for me today.
“I knew I had to play good against her because she’s a great champion, and it’s also not easy to play in France against a French player – but the crowd was really fair, and I really enjoyed it”.
In the quarter-finals the German will play 8th seed Viktoria Kuzmova, who secured a 6-4 4-6 6-4 win over Tereza Martincova in 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Seventh seed Daria Kasatkina was the final winner of the day, the Russian advancing to the quarters with a 6-3 6-2 win over Irina Bara in 65 minutes.
She will play Camila Giorgi in the last 8.