No.5 seed Elina Svitolina enjoyed some Parisian déjà vu to make the third round of Roland Garros, while No.25 seed Ons Jabeur avoided it.

Svitolina reprised the dynamic of her first-round win almost exactly to defeat Ann Li 6-0, 6-4 in one hour and 14 minutes. Jabeur found herself in the same winning position against wildcard Astra Sharma as she had before losing the MUSC Health Women's Open final in April - but this time closed it out 6-2, 6-4.

In round one, three-time Roland Garros quarterfinalist Svitolina had cruised through the first set against wildcard Océane Babel, but a lapse in concentration at the start of the second meant that she had needed to overturn a 2-5 deficit to win it.

Against Li, Svitolina landed 74% of her first serves and struck 10 winners to whitewash the American in the opening set. The Ukrainian won the stanza's only significant tussle, a seven-deuce marathon to capture a triple-break lead.

But Li, who was playing her first tournament back after a two-month layoff due to an abdominal tear, roared back in the second set. The 20-year-old World No.75 found a flurry of perfectly placed forehand winners and jumped out to a 4-1 lead.

As she had against Babel, Svitolina slowly but surely clawed her way back into the set. She cleaned up the loose errors she had started it with, reasserted her authority with some fine net play and took advantage of two Li double faults to get the break back.

At 4-3, Li held two break points to regain her advantage, but was unable to convert them. Svitolina would win each of the last three games in style - a backhand volley to hold for 4-4, a fierce return to break for 5-4 and an off backhand winner on her second match point.

"In the end, what I'm really happy is the way that I was down in both matches in the second set and found a way," said Svitolina. "I found a good level and didn't give up on the second set. That was a really good point for me, and I was really playing composed in both matches. It was two different players, but I was really happy that I could win in two sets both matches."

Svitolina has now reached at least the third round in seven out of her nine appearances at Roland Garros. Up next will be freshly crowned Strasbourg champion Barbora Krejcikova, who reprised her quarterfinal win en route to that title last week over Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 6-3.

Stephens rises again to upset Pliskova

Like Svitolina, Sloane Stephens' Roland Garros record is a model of consistency. The American, who was runner-up here in 2018, reached the third round for the eighth time in 10 appearances with a 7-5, 6-1 defeat of No.9 seed Karolina Pliskova.

The result was an upset on paper, but Stephens had won three of the pair's four previous encounters. Moreover, the American World No.59 has shown signs during this clay season of rediscovering her form after a year marked by personal tragedy.

An absorbing first set found Pliskova playing catch-up throughout, and not quite managing it in the end. Stephens raced out of the blocks with a series of down-the-line winners and led 3-1, before Pliskova raised her level and pegged her back to 3-3.

Stephens rebuilt her lead to go up 5-3 and held a set point serving at 5-4. But in the highest-quality passage of play, Pliskova converted her fourth break point after a marathon game with a dropshot that grazed the netcord on its way over.

Throughout the match, though, former ace queen Pliskova's serve was far from the weapon it has been in the past. She landed only one ace and committed five double faults, and Stephens rarely had trouble reading it. The former US Open champion broke again with a perfect lob, and finally took her fifth set point with a delicate dropshot finish.

In contrast to the first set, the second was one-way traffic. Smacking her inside-in forehand with relish, Stephens raised her tally of winners to 22 as she broke Pliskova three more times. Down match point, the Czech sent a forehand over the baseline - her 38th unforced error of the day.

Stephens will next face another Czech, Australian Open semifinalist Karolina Muchova. The No.18 seed progressed past qualifier Varvara Lepchenko 6-3, 6-4 to reach the third round in Paris for the first time.

Jabeur succeeds in revenge quest against Sharma

Ahead of Jabeur's second clash with Sharma this year, the Tunisian had stated that she wanted "revenge". It was understandable: she had missed her chance to lift her first WTA trophy in April despite dominating the first half of their Charleston 250 final, falling 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 after a loss of focus.

Here, Jabeur found herself in exactly the same position, but kept her foot on the gas with aggressive play. Blitzing a forehand down the line to capture the double break proved necessary. Jabeur failed to serve the match out at the first pass: a double fault handed Sharma a lifeline, which the Australian seized by breaking with a return winner.

Photo by Jimmie48/WTA

But Jabeur made no mistake the second time, pulling off a trademark dropshot to set up match point and sealing victory as Sharma sent a forehand wide.

"I went for my revenge," Jabeur said. "I tried not to do the same mistakes that I did last time. I'm pretty happy with my performance. It was kind of tight at the end, but I'm glad that I got the win."

The 26-year-old has now reached at least the third round of six consecutive majors, and for the third time at Roland Garros. She will next face Magda Linette, who progressed after No.1 seed Ashleigh Barty was forced to retire due to injury.

Opportunity knocks as Kostyuk, Gracheva set clash

Either Marta Kostyuk or Varvara Gracheva will reach the second week of a Grand Slam for the first round after the youthful pair set up a third-round meeting.

Kostyuk, 18, backed up her first-round upset of No.12 seed Garbiñe Muguruza with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Zheng Saisai. The Ukrainian, who previously reached the third rounds of the 2018 Australian Open and 2020 US Open, was in high spirits afterwards regarding her form and recovery from Covid-19.

"I think we are at times where anyone in women's tennis can win a slam, kind of," she said. "Not like anyone, anyone, but a lot of girls. Let's call it that way. It's not that I have this strong feeling inside me that I'm coming into a Grand Slam believing that I can win it, but this time I feel really good. I believe anything is possible.

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marta kostyuk
UKR
More Head to Head
60% Win 3
- Matches Played
40% Win 2
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varvara gracheva
RUS

"I like that I'm moving much better than before. More recovered from Covid, so it's easier for me to recover to play. I'm a player who can do anything - serve, return, hit, slice, go to the net and defend. I don't think there is a specific strength that I have at the moment. It's just I feel everything is good and everything is in the balance.

"And people around me, they are cheering me up, they are believing in me, which I think is very important. I'm just gonna try to believe in myself more and more with every day, and then we'll see what happens."

World No.81 Kostyuk holds a 2-1 head-to-head advantage over Gracheva, 20, with all their previous meetings taking place on the ITF World Tennis Tour. Gracheva overcame Camila Giorgi 7-5, 1-6, 6-2 in two hours and 11 minutes to book her place in the third round of a major for the second time, following the 2020 US Open.

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