PARIS, France - It's almost unfortunate in a way, because she had one of the best clay court lead-ups of anyone. But Ana Ivanovic drew one of her most difficult head-to-head match-ups - Lucie Safarova - in the third round in Paris, and just like she had done the last four times they met, Safarova won.
After the first five games it was anyone's game - neither player was budging on serve, and Ivanovic's big forehand was dialed in. She almost broke in the next game, getting to 0-30 on Safarova's serve - but the No.23-seeded Safarova dug out of that one and would win nine of the next 11 games to go from serving 2-3 in the first set to 6-3, 5-2, eventually closing the No.11-seeded Ivanovic out, 6-3, 6-3.
Safarova has now beaten Ivanovic five times in a row, and the last four times in straight sets.
"We have had tough matches in the past," Ivanovic said. "She's lefty, which isn't something we face every day, and the ball comes a little bit differently. In the beginning I felt like I had a lot of chances I didn't use, and if I did use those chances, maybe the match would have had a different tone to it.
"I'm just really disappointed that I lost. But she's a good player, and she played tough today."
For all of her talents and all of the times she has pushed top players to the brink, Safarova hasn't been to the second week of a Grand Slam in seven years - well, until finally doing it again just now.
"I'm excited. It's been a long time," Safarova said. "I think I was playing very solid today and I wasn't making a lot of mistakes. I was pressuring Ana into her backhand side and then attacking the forehand side, which was working well. I was serving decently too. Overall my game was really good."
That wasn't the only big surprise of the day. Svetlana Kuznetsova, who won this tournament in 2009 and is the No.27 seed this year, rallied from 3-1 down in the third set - and regrouped after missing out on double match point up 6-5 - to edge No.5 seed Petra Kvitova in a nail-biter, 6-7(3), 6-1, 9-7.
Serving at 5-6, 15-40 in the third set, Kvitova ripped four winners in a row - including a forehand volley that just caught the baseline on the first match point - but after getting herself back into it she began struggling with unforced errors again, and an inspired Kuznetsova finally closed the match out.
"In the past couple of weeks she's playing very well on the clay," Kvitova said. "And of course she loves to play here - she's a past champion, and she played the final here another year, I think.
"I knew she was going to be dangerous here more than anywhere else."
The other top seeds all moved through in straight sets, with No.4 seed Simona Halep winning eight games in a row to close out María-Teresa Torró-Flor, 6-3, 6-0, No.6 seed Jelena Jankovic rolling past No.26 seed Sorana Cirstea, 6-1, 6-2, No.10 seed Sara Errani needing just 51 minutes to dispatch Julia Glushko, 6-0, 6-1, and No.15 seed Sloane Stephens beating No.22 seed Ekaterina Makarova, 6-3, 6-4.
The last two spots in the round of 16 were snapped up later in the day after No.28 seed Andrea Petkovic ended Kristina Mladenovic's breakthrough run, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, and Dutch qualifier Kiki Bertens reached her first Grand Slam second week with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Sílvia Soler-Espinosa.