PARIS, France - There's something special about Roland Garros for Virginie Razzano. Last year she recorded arguably the most meaningful win of her career here, and now, after a difficult 12 months that has seen her ranking drop to No.178 in the world, she has made it through to the third round.
A year ago in the first round, Razzano pulled off a win over Serena Williams that resonated all around the world, the only time in the American's career she lost first round at a Grand Slam. But that grandiose victory didn't seem to boost her much in the long run, as after a year's worth of early losses and injuries, she has dipped almost 70 spots on the rankings from No.111 down to No.178.
"Since that victory over Serena I have continued to work on and improve my game, except that my ranking slipped last year because twice I had a problem with my right hip that stopped me for two or three months at a time," Razzano said. "When you have points to defend in various tournaments and you don't play, you can drop even lower. And so in April or March this year I played ITF tournaments but there were only $10,000 ones - I won a tournament in Nîmes and it wasn't easy by any means.
"So what do you do when that happens? You just stay at home and train, train, train. I waited. I bided my time. It was very long, very difficult and disappointing, but I really wanted to come back."
And that resilience really seems to be paying off at her home Grand Slam again this year - after a first round win over fellow French wildcard Claire Feuerstein, Razzano rallied from a set down and finished very strong to win her second round match over Slovak qualifier Zuzana Kucova, 46 62 60.
"It was intense today. She played well. She was solid from the baseline and played me tactically, as she should," Razzano said. "I had to find the solutions. I had to do more damage with my strokes, go up to the net more, really go after the points. I didn't panic - no, no - even after I lost the first set I told myself, 'Physically I'm ready. I can last for ages.' That's what I said to myself on the court."
And she did it - her first time into the third round of a Grand Slam since the 2010 season.
"This is my second career," Razzano said. "I still believe in a number of things. I'm sure I'll get back up in the rankings. I'm going to fight and work as hard as I have been doing the last six months, and even before that. I've rebuilt myself little by little in my professional life and in my personal life. I'm 30 years old, but physically I feel better and better with all the work behind me. I have worked a huge amount.
"Maybe I'm not a big fish like Serena Williams, but I am a dangerous fish. I'm a source of concern for the other players, I'm not just a free match. My opponents need to take me seriously."
Speaking of careers, her opponent - Kucova - saw hers come to an end. The Slovak - also 30 - was making a brief return to the tour after a year and a half out just to play her two favorite events, Stuttgart and Roland Garros. After stunning Julia Goerges first round, this was her farewell match.
"I would imagine she's experiencing a lot of emotions now, as it's difficult to stop your career," Razzano said. "At the same time, if she's happy, that's all that matters. We all have our careers in front of us and do the best we can with them, so it must be the right time for her to stop. I wish her every happiness in her second career, if I can put it that way - whatever we should call it. All the best to her."
Next up for Razzano is No.14 seed Ana Ivanovic, who won through in one of the last matches of the day, beating Mathilde Johansson, 62 62. Ivanovic leads Razzano in their head-to-head series, 4-1.
"I'm a fighter - that helps me - that means I can let off my steam and let nothing go," Razzano said. "Against Ivanovic I'm going to just fire on all cylinders and go out blazing. I have to. Because in the third round you probably won't be the favorite. I'm going to give my all and fight right to the end."
Other seeds moving through were No.5 seed Sara Errani, No.8 seed Angelique Kerber, No.15 seed Roberta Vinci, No.20 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, No.26 seed Sorana Cirstea, No.29 seed Yaroslava Shvedova and No.32 seed Sabine Lisicki. Svetlana Kuznetsova and Monica Puig also moved on.
No.19 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova wasn't as lucky, losing a tight three-setter to Petra Cetkovska, 75 26 64. Cetkovska is playing her first tournament of the year after struggles with a foot injury.