PARIS, France - No.12 seed Angelique Kerber battled past clay favorite Kiki Bertens to reach the second week of Roland Garros for the first time since 2014.
The hard-fought 7-6(4), 7-6(4) victory also gives Kerber a sweet taste of revenge - in 2016, Bertens defeated the reigning Australian Open champion Kerber in the first round of Roland Garros.
Out on Court 1, the pair were evenly matched for most of the tight, nearly-two-hour match. Kerber broke first to get ahead 3-2, but Bertens kept herself in the contest and broke straight back a game later.
The pair brought up 10 break chances between the two in the opening set - converting twice - and marched into the tiebreaker dead even. But the big, high-pressure moments were where the two-time Grand Slam champion shined brightest, and she grabbed the decisive, lone minibreak to take the opening set.
The tug-of-war continued into the second set, where Kerber and Bertens started off by trading four breaks of serve in a row, leaving them level at 3-3. They traded breaks once more, with Bertens striking first to get ahead 5-4 and Kerber breaking back as her opponent served for the set.
In the tiebreak, Kerber reeled off six of the last seven points to put an end to their battle and take her spot in the second week of Roland Garros.
Up next, Kerber will face down the Parisian crowd as she takes on No.7 seed Caroline Garcia in the fourth round. The Frenchwoman eased past Irina-Camelia Begu 6-1, 6-3 earlier in the day.
More to follow...