LYON, France -- Russia’s Daria Kasatkina booked a spot in the second round of the Open 6ème Sens - Métropole de Lyon on Tuesday, gritting her way past homeland hope Pauline Parmentier, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.
"It’s never easy to play against a French player in France," Kasatkina told the media, after her victory. "It was a good battle, she didn’t give up, and she was playing until the end. "
No.7 seed Kasatkina had won their sole previous encounter, at Wuhan in 2016, in straight sets. This time, however, was very different, as Kasatkina was forced into a third set after missing a match point in the second set. The Russian finally prevailed after two hours and 26 minutes of topsy-turvy play.
World No.73 Kasatkina converted six of her 17 break points in the match, while staving off eight of 147th-ranked Parmentier's 12, including three in the final game of the clash.
"I got a bit nervous at the end of the second set," said Kasatkina. "The third set was a lot of drama, but I was able to close this match."
"We were both just putting the ball inside the court and trying to save every point, and then I was a bit more lucky," Kasatkina added.
Former Top 10 player Kasatkina will face qualifier Irina Bara of Romania in the second round. Bara won her opening-round clash against Hungary’s Timea Babos in three sets.
Kasatkina got off to a hot start, breaking Parmentier in the opening game of the match before holding to consolidate for 2-0 without much fuss. Parmentier then found herself in trouble in her very next service game, and although she saved one break point after a long Kasatkina forehand, the Frenchwoman missed a volley long to cede a second break to the Russian.
Kasatkina forged ahead to 4-1, but in that game, Parmentier finally got a look in on the Russian’s serve, forcing an error with a fierce forehand to garner her first break point. However, a long unforced error squandered that chance for the Frenchwoman, and Kasatkina used two strong serves to get out of danger and establish a 5-1 lead.
Serving for the set at 5-2, Kasatkina powered her way to triple set point with sturdy serves and forehands. The Russian faltered with two consecutive double faults, giving Parmentier a ray of hope, but on the third set point, a deep Kasatkina backhand forced a long error from the French player, wrapping up the opening frame.
Parmentier, though, started the second set well, grasping an opening hold with an ace before gritting her way to a service break for a 2-0 lead, which she obtained on her third break point. However, Kasatkina quickly got level, using her heavy forehands to reel off two games in a row and reach 2-2.
Parmentier then had to contend with five break points in her next two service games, and she finally succumbed at 3-3, after Kasatkina used exceptional defense to extend a rally and draw an error on break point. Kasatkina then held on for 5-3, putting herself a game away from victory.
The Russian served for the match at 5-4, where she reached match point after a netted backhand by Parmentier. Kasatkina, though, shot a forehand wide to miss that chance, then double faulted to give Parmentier a break point. There, the Russian let a backhand fly wide, and suddenly the set was level again at 5-5.
Parmentier took that chance and ran with it, firing back-to-back forehand winners to hold for 6-5. In the next game, Kasatkina let a 40-15 lead slip, and then slammed a backhand into the net to give Parmentier a set point. In that point, a rally came to a close with a wide forehand by the Russian, and Parmentier had stunningly claimed four games in a row, and the second set.
Pushed into a decider, Kasatkina was unfazed to start, going up an early break once more and building a 3-1 lead. At 4-2, another strong forehand gave the Russian double break point, and on the second of those, Parmentier double faulted, handing Kasatkina a commanding 5-2 lead.
However, Parmentier refused to stop her aggressive play, and clawed one break back, eventually powering her way to 5-4. In the following game, the Frenchwoman put herself extremely close to leveling the match once more, using more blistering groundstrokes to reach double break point.
Kasatkina bravely fended those off, and reached her second match point, but the Russian missed another forehand wide. An overhead winner by Parmentier gave her another break point, but she fired her own forehand miscue wide, sending the game back to deuce. Finally, Kasatkina converted her third match point after a netted service return by Parmentier.