PARIS, France - No.14 seed Daria Kasatkina broke new ground at the French Open on Friday, as she held off Greece's Maria Sakkari to advance to the fourth round in Paris for the first time, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.
The Russian had reached the third round of the clay court major in each of the past two years, where she was stopped by eventual semifinalist Kiki Bertens while unseeded in 2016 and eventual runner-up Simona Halep as the No.29 seed last year, but took advantage of her best-ever seeding at a major to date this year.
The one hour, 37-minute victory ensures Kasatkina a spot in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the second time in her career, as she also reached the round of 16 last summer at the US Open.
"I started pretty good and I think she wasn't ready for the intensity I put on court in the first set," Kasatkina told reporters after the match.
"It was tough, because she was fighting really, really good. In the second, I got a little bit tight and she came back. I was kind of ready for this because she's a big fighter for sure. In the third set...I came back with different thoughts in my head."
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A hot start for the World No.14 saw her break Sakkari all three times in which she served in the opening set, as Greece's No.1 sprayed 12 unforced errors to just four winners over the first seven games.
However, Sakkari refocused for the middle set and delivered a cleaner performance to level at one set apiece, while Kasatkina began to misfire.
Over the second set of seven games, it was the Russian to racked up double figures in unforced errors, spraying 13 to just two winners and never holding serve.
That set the stage for a potentially intriguing decider, but after the two traded early breaks, Kasatkina won Sakkari's serve to love in the fifth game and never trailed from there.
The World No.38 made a late push, breaking Kasatkina the first time the Russian served for the match with a 5-2 lead, but ultimately could not claw out of a 0-40 hole in the final game as her forehand found the net on Kasatkina's third match point.
Kasatkina will next face World No.2 and Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki, who saw off French wildcard Pauline Parmentier after winning the first 11 games, 6-0, 6-3.
The Russian has beaten the year's first Grand Slam champion twice this season, both on hard courts. Her first victory came in the quarterfinals on home soil indoors in St. Petersburg, and she followed that up with another win in the round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open.
"She's a really tough opponent to play, and we've never faced each other on clay before. It's going to be a completely different match than the ones we played. It's going to be a tough one for sure, and I have to prepare well," Kasatkina said.
"[The head-to-head] doesn't mean anything, absolutely. It doesn't matter what it was a few months ago. I have to go play point-by-point now."