PARIS, France – WTA World No.57 Danielle Collins stormed into the quarterfinals of Roland Garros with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over No.30 seed Ons Jabeur in a match that could not be played on Monday due to rain.
The players had got as far as the coin toss the previous day, but after an overnight delay it was the American who coped the better in a one-hour 58-minute encounter between players who had never previously been so deep in the French Open.
Serve dominated the early stages of the match, but Collins was doing more of the pressing and was rewarded late in the opening set. After falling a break down in the second, Jabeur rallied impressively but was unable to maintain that moment in a decider that saw seven breaks of serve.
“I felt like I was in the driver’s seat up until, 6-4, 3-0,” Collins said, reflecting on the match on court before later stating: “I think she's a really tricky player and she has so many tools under her belt that she's able to use in really clutch moments.
“I think it was maybe when I was up 3-0 in the second set and there were a couple of really strong groundstrokes that I had hit. She was able to hit a dropshot off of those.
“You don't usually see too many players being able to handle the pace that well and then being able to have the soft touch with their hands to hit an effective dropshot. So I found that to be very challenging, because it just wasn't something I was always expecting.”
After winning the toss the previous day, Collins served first and set the tone of the first half hour of play with a dominant hold. In the early running, she hinted at being the player likelier to make a breakthrough, but was the first pushed to deuce when serving, though she responded with a backhand winner down the line that moved her out of trouble.
Subsequently, she regained the summer hand and at 4-4 enjoyed the first two break points of the match. These were admirably saved by the WTA World No.35, who successfully stepped up the intensity of her hitting at a timely moment.
The Tunisian, though, was powerless to halt her rival when serving to stay in the set. A fine piece of Collins defense saw her slice out of trouble in the tramlines on her forehand side before racing to her left to hit a backhand passing winner on the run. This brought up a point for the set, which was claimed as Jabeur netted.
Collins’ momentum continued into the second frame, in which she claimed the first three games for the loss of just a single point. Her dominance seemed to be highlighted by a superb drop volley that pushed her 3-0 clear.
Jabeur might have been wobbling, but a strong service hold completely changed the course of the match. Previously, she had shown a capability to hit some blistering winners but these typically arrived at non-critical moments, while the dropshots she was regularly employing were not paying off.
That foothold, though, transformed her fortunes. In the very next game she took the first break-point opportunity she had created in the match. After another convincing service hold, she moved ahead in the set with a stunning display of touch to break Collins once more.
With the roof of Court Philippe-Chatrier closing, Collins stopped the run of five successive games against her with a hold, but it was insufficient to stop the match going to a decider as Jabeur responded with her first love service game of the encounter.
Neither player was secure on serve in the decider, with two double faults from Collins in the opening game setting the tone for a frenetic period of the match that saw five successive breaks.
If the American’s delivery was not at its best, she continued to look sprightly and started to get the better of the encounters around net that Jabeur had dominated in the second set. This helped her to a crucial hold from 0-40 down and pushed her into a 4-2 lead.
Having shown in the second set how well she can respond to adversity, Jabeur did so again in the decider to hit back to 4-4, but serving to stay in the set delivered her first double fault to bring up a match point for Collins. Her deep return of serve was enough to force an error from Jabeur and seal her place in the last eight.