LYON, France - Anna-Lena Friedsam delivered the biggest upset of the Open 6ème Sens - Métropole de Lyon thus far, overpowering No.2 seed Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 6-3 in one hour and 12 minutes to complete the quarterfinal lineup.
The result marks the German's third last-eight showing at WTA level since her return from a second shoulder surgery exactly a year ago, following her runs in Nurnberg and Palermo last year. It was a thoroughly impressive performance from Friedsam, who was particularly dominant on serve, winning 74% of her first serve points and striking 15 winners to 16 unforced errors.
"It was a very good match for me today," said Friedsam with satisfaction afterwards. "I knew I had to play good against her because she's a great champion, and it's also not easy to play in France against a French player - but the crowd was really fair, and I really enjoyed it."
The opening set would comprise a series of seven untroubled holds - bookended, unfortunately for Mladenovic, by the home player tossing in careless service games to get broken twice. Mladenovic would open the match with a double fault and an unforced error off each wing, with a forehand winner sealing the third of Friedsam's break points to give the World No.136 a lead that she never looked like giving up.
Maintaining a 62% first serve percentage, Friedsam was impregnable on serve in the first set, conceding just five points as she backed her delivery up with fizzing forehands and firm overheads. Though Mladenovic would also post her share of rapid-fire holds, serving down 3-5 another brace of loose errors from the Frenchwoman opened the door again for Friedsam, who needed no further invitation. Sneaking into net at 30-30, the 26-year-old tapped away a smart volley to reach set point, and promptly took it as Mladenovic sent a forehand into the tramlines.
Friedsam pressed home her advantage with relish as the second set got under way, coming up with down-the-line winners off both wings and a marvellous stab volley in the first two games en route to breaking an error-strewn Mladenovic for another immediate lead. The former World No.45 would also find her best tennis of the day in passing her first test behind her delivery, with a redirected backhand winner and a swashbuckling all-court point extricating herself from break point down to move up 3-0.
By now, Mladenovic would be the victim of her own poor decisions as much as Friedsam's brilliance: poor dropshots and ill-advised attempts to redirect the ball would be her repeated undoing. A poor approach shot set up Friedsam for a pass that brought up a point for the double break, and another forehand wide from the former World No.10 - one of her 28 unforced errors over the course of the match - sealed it.
Down 0-4, Mladenovic finally roused herself to mount some resistance, constructing a brace of elegant points around her dropshot and breaking Friedsam for the first time with a backhand winner down the line. But it was too little, too late. Insurance break in hand, Friedsam retained her lead all the way to the finishing line, taking her second match point after a high-octane baseline rally ended with Mladenovic netting a backhand.
Up next for Friedsam will be No.8 seed Viktoria Kuzmova, who earlier overcame Tereza Martincova 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in two hours and 10 minutes to reach her first quarterfinal of the season.