PARIS, France - Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova won the last four games of a titanic clash to take out French No.1 Caroline Garcia and reach the third round of a major tournament for the first time, winning, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 to advance at the French Open.
A former junior standout who reached the Wimbledon girl's final in 2015, Blinkova won her fourth straight three-setter in Paris and rallied from a double break down in the decider to outlast Garcia after one hour and 53 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Garcia reached the quarterfinals for the first time at her home major back in 2017; a former World No.4, the No.24 seed was fresh off a runner-up finish at the Internationaux de Strasbourg, and took that rhythm through a decisive first round win over Mona Barthel and raced through the opening set over Blinkova.
By contrast, Blinkova, who has twice before beaten a Top 20 player - and broke into the Top 100 last year - trailed by a break in all four of her previous matches, most dramatically against countrywoman Margarita Gasparyan, who led 4-0 in the third set of their first round encounter.
She nonetheless steadied her nerve in the second set and scored the first break to find herself serving for a decider.
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Garcia responded by breaking straight back - saving a set point along the way - but couldn't keep the momentum as Blinkova broke once more to level the match.
Undaunted, the former China Open champion thrilled the Chatrier crowd by taking the first three games of the final set, ultimately edging ahead 4-2. Blinkova weathered the storm of winners - 32 in total from Garcia - chip away at the deficit, rolling through the final four games with the loss of just five points.
"Well, what happened? Nothing happened," Garcia said through translation after the match. "She played the match, and then today things didn't go well for me. I didn't manage to go all the way to the end of the match with the correct level of tennis, and she won.
"It wasn't a good day for me. I wasn't efficient on the court. I didn't have the right intensity. She played a good match. She put pressure on me. She tried to attack and has a good backhand, changing directions, and I wasn't up to her level, both in the intensity in my shots and physically."
In total, the Russian struck 13 winners and converted five of 10 break point opportunities to reach the Round of 32 at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her young career.
Standing between Blinkova and a spot in the second week is either Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon or No.14 seed and 2018 French Open semifinalist Madison Keys, who play later on Thursday.