Barbora Krejcikova underlined her status as the triple threat of Roland Garros 2021 by dismissing Sloane Stephens 6-2, 6-0 in just 67 minutes to reach her first Grand Slam singles quarterfinal.
The Czech has already reached that stage of the women's doubles and mixed doubles events this year, and brought her all-court prowess to bear in a tactical masterclass. Krejcikova won 82% of her first serve points and saved all three break points she faced.
Krejcikova returned from the tour shutdown last August ranked World No.114, a former doubles World No.1 who had won both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2018 alongside Katerina Siniakova but who had yet to crack the Top 100 in singles.
That owed much to Krejcikova's doubles-focused schedule, but a fourth-round run at Roland Garros last year opened the door to a long-awaited singles breakthrough.
This year, Krejcikova reached her first WTA 1000 final in Dubai in March, scored her first two Top 10 wins, over Sofia Kenin in Rome and Elina Svitolina in the third round here, and picked up her maiden WTA singles title a week ago in Strasbourg.
Krejcikova said that playing a series of exhibition matches in the Czech Republic during the shutdown had been a key confidence boost ahead of this surge.
"I played all the top girls, because Czech nation we have so many good, top players," she said. "I had the opportunity to play against them, to watch them how they practice, to watch how they prepare for the matches and everything.
"I think there was something that helped me for sure because I was outside top 100, and I felt I can actually play with all these girls - but, you know, just my ranking wasn't there. I wasn't able to actually play the same tournaments."
Doubles success doesn't always translate to the singles court, but it was key to Krejcikova extending her winning streak to nine against Stephens. The 25-year-old has spoken about her experience in Grand Slam finals proving valuable in terms of holding her nerve in big singles matches, and she executed her strategy without blinking.
That strategy also involved plenty of beautifully constructed points straight out of the doubles repertoire.
En route to holding for 5-1 in the first set, Krejcikova drew Stephens forward with a drop shot before triumphing in a rat-a-tat net exchange. In the second game of the second set, she reset a point with a pinpoint lob before finishing it with another dropshot.
"I don't know if it's a good thing to actually say out loud my tactic," Krejcikova said. "Because I'm still in this tournament and also for upcoming tournaments, I don't really think it's good. I don't know if I'm gonna say anything close.
"But I was just thinking I have to play my game, I have to be aggressive, because I was expecting she's gonna play high, really topspin balls. And it was actually happening. And then I just think that I was playing smarter."
Despite her controlled performance and cool exterior, Krejcikova revealed that she had actually suffered a bout of severe nerves ahead of the match.
"I woke up and I just felt really bad," she said. "I just felt really stressed. I don't know why or what for. Half an hour before the match, I didn't even want to step on the court. I had to lock myself in the physio room and I had to talk to my psychologist. I was actually crying. I just felt really, really bad, and I don't know why. It just happened.
"We talked about it a lot, and she told me, 'You know, if you can overcome this, what you feel right now, it's going to be a huge win. It doesn't matter if you're gonna win on the court or lose on the court, because it's going to be a personal win.'"
"I went there on the court, and I know that it didn't look like it, but I just felt really, really bad. I was just happy that I started well. I think after the first point, things got a little bit better, a little bit easier. Then I broke her. I just felt like, yeah, you know, I can actually play her.
"I think I was just more stressed that I'm just not gonna be good enough. I think that's what happened."
Stephens had defeated two of Krejcikova's compatriots, No.9 seed Karolina Pliskova and No.18 seed Karolina Muchova, to reach the fourth round, but found a third straight Czech win a bridge too far.
Out-manoeuvred and flummoxed by Krejcikova's disguise and changes of pace from the baseline, the American coughed up 26 unforced errors to just nine winners. Stephens' record in Grand Slam fourth rounds drops to 6-8 as a result.
Not that the former World No.3 was dissatisfied.
"There is a lot of good things going for me," she said. "I have strung a lot of matches together. It's going in the right direction, so I can't get too down about this. I just have to brush it off and move on to the next."
For the second straight year, Roland Garros will feature at least four first-time Grand Slam quarterfinalists, with Krejcikova joining Elena Rybakina, Tamara Zidansek and Paula Badosa as debutantes at this stage. Last year, the first-time quartet were eventual champion Iga Swiatek, Martina Trevisan, Nadia Podoroska and Laura Siegemund.