No. 4 seed and defending champion Garbine Muguruza led on a rain-shortened day at Roland Garros where there were no upsets in third-round play.
The Spaniard on Friday moved into the fourth round after a 7-5, 6-2 win over No. 27 seed Yulia Putintseva.
“With each match my confidence is improving,” Muguruza said. “It’s important that each match I’ve played here has not been easy. I went out there without fear. I wanted the match, and I had to dictate the game.”
She will next face No. 13 seed Kristina Mladenovic of France, who squeaked by unseeded American Shelby Rogers 7-5, 4-6, 8-6, staging a comeback in the final set.
“It was epic,” said Mladenovic, who managed a back injury that hinders her serving. “That’s the word I’m going to use today, because I still don’t know how I won that match. I mean, 5-2 down in the third set. Quite a long fight there. Shelby was playing great tennis. She has a great game for clay and she really pushed me through the last breath I had.”
Other Top 10 winners Friday were No. 8 Svetlana Kuznetsova who outlasted No. 32 Zhang Shuai 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-5, and No. 10 Venus Williams who eased past Belgian Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-1.
Venus’ win, with sister Serena watching, comes 20 years after her first appearance at Roland Garros.
“Twenty years ago? Wow,” Venus said. “I’ll be honest there won’t be 20 more. I will be watching in 20 years with all of you guys.”
Kuznetsova will meet the winner of No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki and American teen CiCi Bellis. Their match was called due to rain on Friday with Wozniacki leading 6-2, 2-5. Williams next faces No. 30 seed Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland.
No. 23 Sam Stosur and unseeded Latvian Jelena Ostapenko booked a fourth-round meeting when the Aussie dismissed American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-2, 6-2, and Ostapenko defeated unseeded Lesia Tsurenko of the Ukraine 6-1, 6-4.
Matches to look for on Saturday at Roland Garros include (9) Aggie Radwanska vs. Alize Cornet, (3) Simona Halep vs. (26) Daria Kasatkina, and (11) Wozniacki vs. Bellis (to finish).
“At the beginning of the tournament I said 10, 15 players could win this tournament and I still think that,” Halep said. “It’s really open. I have confidence that I have a chance to win it, but I am not thinking about the result at all. I am taking it match by match, and it is going pretty well up to now.”
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