PARIS, France - Some went the distance and some cruised as the second round of the Open GDF SUEZ wrapped up on Thursday. Among the close ones was a three set battle between two of the best all-court players in today's game.
In the first match of the day on center court, No.7 seed Roberta Vinci faced American qualifier Bethanie Mattek-Sands, with Vinci using her shot variety to counter Mattek-Sands' all-out attacking game. A former semifinalist here, Mattek-Sands had her moments in the match, particularly in the second set, but Vinci's serve was too steady in the end - she lost just four points in four service games in the final set - and the Italian moved through, 63 16 63.
Vinci, who cracked the Top 20 last year but is currently sitting just outside at No.23, has now won back-to-back matches for the first time since the US Open; it is her first Premier-level quarterfinal since her breakthrough week in Toronto last August, where she scored her first win over a reigning World No.1 en route (Caroline Wozniacki) and subsequently broke into that Top 20.
Other early winners were Czech veteran Klara Zakopalova, who won the first seven games and eventually put Bulgaria's Tsvetana Pironkova away, 60 63; German qualifier Mona Barthel, who won the last seven games of her match to beat French wildcard Pauline Parmentier, 63 60; and No.9 seed Angelique Kerber, who battled almost two hours to get by Monica Niculescu, 63 46 63 - Kerber will face the No.1 seed, Maria Sharapova, in the quarterfinals.
Having come in with an 0-3 record on the season, Zakopalova has absolutely cruised into her fifth career Premier-level quarterfinal, losing four games in her first round match with Alizé Cornet and just three against Pironkova.
"In the first set I made hardly any mistakes; in the second set Tsvetana started to play slower and cut down on her errors, so it was closer," the 29-year-old said. "I fought hard today - and I also got a little bit lucky on some points."
Zakopalova's first four Premier quarterfinals came at Antwerp (2004, 2005), Warsaw (2009) and Doha (2011). She has never been to a Premier semifinal.
Next up for Zakopalova is No.6 seed Julia Goerges, who won her second round match on Wednesday. Goerges leads Zakopalova in their head-to-head series, 2-1, although Zakopalova's win did come in their most recent meeting.
In the feature night match, No.2 seed Marion Bartoli got her week underway with a 75 61 win over Petra Martic, winning seven straight games from 4-5 in the first set to take total control and getting a seventh break in the last game.
"I had never played her before so I had to try to work her out tactically speaking at the start of the match," Bartoli commented. "I was playing the ball down the middle too much and wasn't able to get enough behind my service - the first set was really wearing. But once I got the lead, things got a lot better."
Bartoli's quarterfinal opponent is Vinci. "She plays a lot like Petra with a lot of slice on her backhand, and the surface suits her too. But if I get into my rhythm I stand a good chance. For the moment I'm delighted how things are going."
Yanina Wickmayer rounded out the day's play with a 62 75 victory over Christina McHale, squandering three match points at 62 54 but regrouping well after it got to 5-all, holding at 15 to make it 6-5 then breaking at love to end it.