Welcome to Roland Garros Rewind, where wtatennis.com will take a look back at some of the most memorable matches from the past two decades at the French Open. From notorious upsets to great escapes, rewind the clock and check out our list of 10 of the best fourth-round matches, laid out in chronological order.
Roland Garros Round Reviews:
Serena, Sharapova and more first round classics
Davenport, Schiavone and more French Open second round stunners
Ivanovic arrives, Henin, Sharapova battle in third round clashes
1999:  Stefanie Graf def. Anna Kournikova 6-3, 7-6(4)
On the eve of her 30th birthday, Stefanie Graf might have slipped from her perch as the undisputed force in the women’s game but was en route to her first Grand Slam final in three years. Before toppling all of the Top 3 players in the Rankings, she was first tasked with overcoming Anna Kournikova, who had spent the previously two years busy justifying her strong media profile, making the semifinals at Wimbledon in 1997 and showing potential on clay by reaching the final in Charleston weeks before her tilt at the Roland Garros title.
The pair had shared their previous two encounters before their Paris meeting – Graf ending Kournikova’s debut Grand Slam event in the fourth round of the 1996 US Open before losing to her on Eastbourne’s grass two years later. Having been burned by the Russian, it was a focused Graf who started the match, playing an aggressive brand of tennis that allowed her to win an early break and established a 3-0 lead before her teenaged opponent was able to get on the board. Kournikova gained confidence from this and then displayed the type of tennis that saw her heralded as one of the game’s most exciting young players, showing attacking instinct and defensive aptitude in equal measure as she drew level, winning a high-quality sixth game to square the match. A heavy drop shot allowed Graf to re-establish her one-break lead, and the German saw the set out with a heavy serve her opponent was unable to return.
The second set followed a similar pattern as Graf made the early running and earned one break but might have had three given the pressure she was perpetually exerting on her opponent’s serve. Kournikova, though, was unyielding and showcased mental fortitude to break the five-time previous champion and force a tiebreak that proved just beyond her.
Graf went on to lift the trophy for a sixth time but would retire within a couple of months of this classic encounter, having also reached the Wimbledon final. Kournikova, who would go on to make the doubles final alongside Martina Hingis, would not make good on the promise in singles she showcased in this encounter or her early career. Although she reached the second week of Grand Slam play on seven occasions, only once did she make a quarterfinal, unable to recover fully from a stress fracture in her foot. However, she enjoyed significant success in doubles, twice winning the Australian Open.
2003: Nadia Petrova def.  Jennifer Capriati 6-3, 4-6, 6-3
In the fortnight before she turned 21, Nadia Petrova transformed herself into a legitimate top player - a development that was both out of nowhere and a long time coming. Roland Garros girls' champion in 1998, the Russian had cracked the Top 100 at the age of 17 and in 2001 reached the second week of both the French Open and Wimbledon, finishing the year at World No.39.
But after a left foot injury sidelined her for most of 2002, Petrova's comeback had been slow - until the hammer-thrower's daughter began raining down hammer blows of her own against illustrious opponents in Paris, not stopping until the semifinals. Two weeks previously, the 20-year-old had taken on a double dose of American tennis royalty in Rome, progressing past Monica Seles via retirement but falling to Jennifer Capriati 7-5, 6-3; at Roland Garros, she routed Seles in the first round 6-4, 6-0 - what would be the final match of the nine-time major champion's career - and, two matches later, avenged the Capriati loss across three pulsating sets.
Though both players possessed bruising power, World No.76 Petrova, a future two-time doubles WTA Finals champion, was consistently the more aggressive player on court, repeatedly cutting off the 2001 champion's defence with efficient net play. Having begun the year outside the Top 100, Petrova would finish it at World No.12 and go on to be a Top 10 mainstay; Capriati, on the other hand, would ultimately win only one more title after her final major trophy at the 2002 Australian Open, and was less than two years away from the end of her career.
2004:  Anastasia Myskina def.  Svetlana Kuznetsova 1-6, 6-4, 8-6
With both Williams sisters and Jennifer Capriati still alive in the bottom half of the 2004 draw as the last 16 got under way, this all-Russian derby flew somewhat under the radar. But those who had been paying attention were aware of the potential by two rising talents - both of whom would end the year as new Slam champions as a Russian revolution upended the old order.
The 19-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova had scored the most eyecatching result of her young career in February, stunning World No.1 Justine Henin in the Doha semifinals - part of a 30-10 season win-loss record that saw her approaching the Top 10 at speed by this point. But it had been Myskina who had prevented Kuznetsova from backing her Henin upset up with the title, and who had become the second Russian to crack the Top 5 as a result. Moreover, the 22-year-old was making a habit of asserting her authority over the legion of young compatriots surging on to the WTA Tour, frequently blunting their power games with her own smart, smooth-hitting counterpunching.
That's exactly what Myskina did here - despite being all but blown off the court initially as Kuznetsova bullied her way to a commanding 6-1, 3-1 lead. Gradually, though, Myskina began to poke holes in her countrywoman's heavy power. A riveting climax saw Kuznetsova save two match points at 4-5 in the decider, only to squander one of her own serving for the win at 6-5 as Myskina roared back to take the final three games - narrowly surviving what would be the toughest test of her path to a maiden Grand Slam title.
2005:  Lindsay Davenport def.  Kim Clijsters 1-6, 7-5, 6-3
Although the seeding did not suggest it, Lindsay Davenport completed a major upset as she overcame Kim Clijsters in the fourth round of the 2005 French Open. Everything seemed in favor of the Belgian ahead of the meeting, from her strong clay court record to a run of six successive victories over her American rival, including one weeks previous in Indian Wells, and the early stages of the match seemed to bare this out as the two-time finalist hit her straps quickly in her first major in more than a year because of wrist injury.
Clijsters claimed the first set with ease and had moved into a 3-1 advantage in the second when she lost her rhythm. “All of a sudden, I lost the feeling of my strokes,” she would later admit.
Davenport, who made clear her dislike of clay clear throughout her career, had been a set down in her opening two matches against Katerina Srebotnik and Peng Shuai before fighting back to win, while she had struggled past Virginie Razzano in three sets in the previous round. The American’s fighting spirit again came to the fore just as it seemed she was finally destined for the exit door, as she swung from the hip with great effect to take the only one of 17 meetings between these greats played on the dirt.
After reaching the last eight in Paris for the first time in six years, she admitted to being “amazed” by her unlikely comeback and confessed: “On this surface, more than any other, I can control things the least.”
Having flirted with disaster for so long throughout the tournament, she was finally unseated by France’s Mary Pierce in the quarterfinals, in what proved to be her last French Open. The victory, however, continued a proud streak in which she reached the second week in 20 successive Grand Slam appearances. Clijsters’ comeback, meanwhile, continued impressively, with a run to the fourth round at Wimbledon before winning in New York. A semifinal appearance in Paris the following year remains her best performance in Paris since reaching the 2003 final.
2008:  Dinara Safina def.  Maria Sharapova 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-2
Two of the most important results of Dinara Safina's career would, essentially, be the same match. In 2006, the Russian had pulled off an improbable comeback from 1-5 down in the final set against Maria Sharapova in the fourth round of Roland Garros, winning 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 to seal her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal place. Two years later, she did it again, this time overturning a set and 2-5 deficit before grinding down her younger compatriot.
This time round, much more was expected of Safina. The 22-year-old had seized centre stage in Berlin the previous month, stunning both Serena Williams and Justine Henin - ending the latter's first career - en route to her first Tier I title, and was on a nine-match winning streak. Sharapova - the new World No.1 following Henin's shock retirement, an announcement that had blown Roland Garros wide open - was also in hot form, though, having compiled a 9-1 record on clay, including a first title on the surface in Amelia Island.
A brutal encounter saw the countrywomen pit power against power - though they would have to battle wet conditions and an hour's rain delay as well, and Sharapova also needed to survive the French crowd's ire after demanding the umpire check several marks that turned out to be correct. The 21-year-old had all the momentum following an arduous opening set, having saved two set points to eke out a tiebreak before taking advantage of a rattled Safina to move to the brink of victory, reaching match point as she served for the win at a set and 5-3 up.
But a scorching backhand from Safina, her signature weapon, would save that and turn the match around. The future World No.1's resilience would sometimes be called into question, but at her best her fighting ability from behind was truly tenacious. Sharapova again moved to a 5-2 lead in the second-set tiebreak, but a double fault beckoned Safina back in - and this time, there would be no further plot twists as the lower seed took control of the decider and wrapped up another step towards her first Grand Slam final.
2010:  Samantha Stosur def.  Justine Henin 2-6, 6-1, 6-4
Justine Henin may have only been five months into her comeback after retirement, but the Belgian boasted a Roland Garros pedigree like few others as she took to court to play Samantha Stosur in the fourth round of the 2010 edition. She had won on four of her previous five visits to Paris, slipping only in 2004 when feeling ill in the second round against Tathiana Garbin. And even if her Australian opponent was seeded higher than her, a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 success only weeks earlier in Stuttgart suggested that the tag of favorite had not been unfairly placed upon her.
Certainly, the evidence of the opening set was that Henin, who had beaten Maria Sharapova in three sets in the previous round, was heading through to the last eight. She established an early break and added another in the seventh game to seal the first with the type of authority that she was unable to maintain. Stosur was unflappable in her response and broke immediately in the second game, triggering a shift in momentum that Henin proved powerless to stop. With a remodeled serve that struggled to fire and even her trademark backhand missing its mark, Henin comfortably lost the second and was powerless to respond in the decider, which was sealed by a Stosur smash.
“She has a lost of qualities,” the Belgian said of the 2009 semifinalist in the aftermath. “She really starts to be very consistent, especially on the clay. It's probably her best surface. She has improved a lot in the last few months.”
Indeed, Stosur was so successful that she would go on to defeat World No.1 Serena Williams in a thrilling three-set quarterfinal before dismantling Jelena Jankovic in the semis. Italy’s Francesca Schiavone proved a bridge too far in the final, in what remains her best Roland Garros run to date. For Henin, meanwhile, it was the last time she would play the main draw in Paris.
2011:  Li Na def.  Petra Kvitova 2-6, 6-1, 6-3
In 2011, the most intriguing last-16 clash paired two surging players who were facing the same question: could they translate their immense potential into Grand Slam titles? Li Na had proven herself an adept upset artist over the past half-decade, and at the age of 29 her circuitous career path had climbed another notch: a first Premier title in Sydney had been followed by a maiden run to a major final at the Australian Open final. Back-to-back clay semifinals in Madrid and Rome also indicated that the Chinese player had found a new level of consistency - though in between Australia and Europe, a four-match losing streak still provided a counterargument to that.
Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Petra Kvitova had given the world a taste of how devastating her power game could be by reaching the previous year's Wimbledon semifinals, and the Czech had continued to soar upwards in 2011 with titles in Paris and Madrid, the latter rocketing her into the Top 10.
Madrid had also seen Kvitova dispatch Li easily 6-3, 6-1, and at Roland Garros she picked up where she left off - in particular showing greater focus on break points both for and against her to dominate the opening set. But although both players would seem imperious when they had the upper hand in the match, keeping it would be more of a challenge: in the second set, Li finally taking her ninth break point opportunity unleashed her own laser-like power as she raced through to force a decider.
The third set would be a microcosm of the previous two: Kvitova, back on top, took a 3-0 lead - only for Li to hit her stride later and for longer, moving her opponent relentlessly around the court as she reeled off six consecutive games for the win.
Li, whose only clay finals at this point had been back-to-back Estoril runner-up showings in 2005 and 2006, was open afterwards about her discomfort on the surface, but equally firm in her ambition to match or better her Australian Open result: "I don't like clay courts, but I'm still in the quarterfinals," she said. This attitude would pay off in style: two matches later, Li had made history for herself and her continent by becoming the first ever Asian Grand Slam singles champion. Kvitova, meanwhile, would waste no time in bouncing back to claim her own maiden Grand Slam trophy at Wimbledon a month later.
2015:  Serena Williams def. Sloane Stephens 1-6, 7-5, 6-3
Serena Williams’ would win her 20th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros 2015, but it was a run that was not without its drama. Two days before she faced Sloane Stephens in the fourth round, she had come from a set and a break down to overcome Victoria Azarenka in what was her 50th win in Paris, making her the first woman in the Open Era to reach that landmark in all majors. Stephens, meanwhile, had overcome her mentor at the Australian Open in 2013 but was coming off the back of four straight losses to Serena, including two earlier in the year.
Williams made a lethargic start to the match, which was characterized by a slew of unforced errors that allowed Stephens plentiful openings. To the younger player’s credit, she took these emphatically to seal the opening set and twice forced Serena to serve to stay in the match in the second set.
Prior to the encounter, Mary Pierce, champion in 2000, commented: “Serena is Serena. When it really counts is when she's really able to kick into another level, focus even more and fight and hone in and be aggressive. She gets the job done.”
The Frenchwoman’s words were to prove prophetic as the World No.1 showcased all of her fighting spirit and willing mentality to respond. Winning a 27-stroke rally at 15-30, 2-3 in the second set was the turning point in the match for the player who was already a two-time champion in France as it switched the momentum and put Stephens on the back foot for the first time. In the deciding set, Serena broke twice to seal the victory.
A third Parisian success ultimately arrived for the American, who overcame Lucie Safarova in the showpiece and secured the third of four successive major titles. Stephens, meanwhile, would be back, reaching the 2018 final – her best display at Roland Garros to date.
2017:  Elina Svitolina def. [Q] Petra Martic 4-6, 6-3, 7-5
A French Open quarterfinalist in 2015, Elina Svitolina’s run to the same stage two years later was eventful. After a routine start with a two-set win over Yaroslava Shvedova, she had to come from behind to defeat Tsvetana Pironkova before grinding past Magda Linette to set up a last-16 encounter with Petra Martic. The Croat had been the story of the tournament to that point. The only qualifier left, she scored a first-round win over Ashleigh Barty before knocking out No.12 seed Madison Keys in three sets before demolishing No.17 Anastasija Sevastova for the loss of only two games.
This was the pair’s third career meeting, with Martic winning on Katowice’s indoor clay four years earlier before Svitolina gained a measure of revenge at the 2014 career open, albeit Martic was forced to withdraw from that match with injury when trailing 5-0 in the opening set. It would prove to be the most enthralling of five encounters to date, with Martic, who was World No.290 after a major back injury, controlling the opening set, which she took as her opponent netted a powerful serve. A break to love at the beginning of the second set promised much but Svitolina hit back to level.
An injury break at the beginning of the decider did not bode well for the Ukrainian, particularly as she fell 5-2 behind. Serving to stay in that match at that point, she found herself two points from defeat at 0-30, but at that juncture her game clicked into gear and she chalked up 20 of the last 26 points to progress.
Svitolina may have performed the great escape to overcome Martic, but she was on the opposite end of such a match against Simona Halep in the quarterfinals. Leading by a set and 5-1, she was unable to hold on either occasion she served for the match, while she also squandered a match point in the tiebreak before capitulating to lose the decider to a bagel. Nevertheless, that remains her best run in France.
Martic, meanwhile, continued her comeback from injury and in 2019 reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros – her best performance in a major to date. Meanwhile, the 29-year-old hit a career-high ranking of WTA World No.14 in January 2020 and had dropped only one spot when play was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
2017:  Caroline Wozniacki def  Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
Caroline Wozniacki’s progress to the fourth round in 2017 had been something of a mixed bag. Although she had dispatched Francoise Abanda without the loss of a single game in the second round, this was sandwiched between tough three-set victories over wildcard Jamiee Fourlis and CiCi Bellis, who had previously shocked Kiki Bertens. Svetlana Kuznetsova, who trailed 7-6 in what was a tight head-to-head record, was coming fresh off a lengthy win over Zhang Shuai, a three-set success over Oceane Dodin and a routine first-round win against Christina McHale.
If Wozniacki had been a little shaky in two of her three opening matches, there was little evidence of rustiness from the manner she clicked into gear early against the Russian. She broke at the first opportunity and set about absorbing pressure and forcing mistakes from her rival. The result was a one-sided opener but Kuznetsova’s power brought her back level in the second, which was sealed with a fine crosscourt pass after an intelligently constructed point. The 2009 champion, however, was being drawn into too many errors by the tenacious Dane, who moved to establish a 3-0 advantage in the second set and withstood a comeback when Kuznetsova hit a purple patch of form.
“It was definitely a good win,” Wozniacki commented in the aftermath, but she was unable to extend her run further as she was defeated by surprise champion Jelena Ostapenko in the semifinals. It left a nagging doubt as to her ability to win a Grand Slam, but in 2018 she put the record right by winning in Australia. Kuznetsova, meanwhile, has faltered in France at the first hurdle in each of the last two years, while a win over No.15 seed Marketa Vondrousova at the Australian Open earlier this year was her first at a major since New York in 2017.