Aliaksandra Sasnovich scored her second win over Emma Raducanu in the past eight months, taking out the No.12 seed 3-6, 6-1, 6-1 in 2 hours and 4 minutes in the seond round of Roland Garros. She will next face Angelique Kerber for the second time in as many weeks after the No.21 seed held off wildcard Elsa Jacquemot 6-1, 7-6(2).
Sasnovich had previously defeated the Briton 6-2, 6-4 in the second round of Indian Wells last October - Raducanu's first match after winning the US Open as a qualifier. The 28-year-old had fallen at this stage of Roland Garros on four previous occasions, but put on a dazzling display of shotmaking to reach the third round for the first time.
The result continues a strong season for Sasnovich, who has improved her ranking from No.91 at the end of 2021 to its current No.47 thanks to an overall season record of 21-10. She reached her third career final at Melbourne Summer Set 2 in January and is fresh off a second-round run in Strasbourg last week, where she took eventual champion Kerber to three sets.
Raducanu, who suffered a back injury in the run-up to Roland Garros, finishes her first ever clay-court swing with an overall 6-5 record. The 19-year-old has successfully reached at least the second round on her debut at each of the four majors.
Match management: Both players took a few games to settle into the match, but after Raducanu saved two break points to hold for 2-2, she was the one to find another gear first. Three electrifying winners in succession - two backhand crosscourt and one forehand down the line - captured the Sasnovich serve, and Raducanu remained on the front foot for the rest of the set. She broke again to seal it, flicking a backhand winner off a poor dropshot on her first set point.
However, Sasnovich essayed a remarkable turnaround in a masterclass of a second set. She dominated Raducanu with a plethora of winners: sharp forehand angles, perfectly weighted dropshots and dismissive returns all contributed to a tally of 19 for the set, compared to just four unforced errors.
Sasnovich seemed to have come out of the zone at the start of the decider, and a rejuvenated Raducanu brought up the first chances to go ahead. But five break points went begging in the third game; three were saved with clean Sasnovich winners, but the teenager will rue the error on a makeable pass on the first.
Once Sasnovich had extricated herself from that game, she rolled to the finishing line as Raducanu fell away. Several more sumptuous dropshots helped her tighten her grip on the match, and Sasnovich converted her first match point with her 45th winner of the day, a backhand down the line.
Kerber withstands Jacquemot; Azarenka, Teichmann to clash
Despite battling for 3 hours and 16 minutes to win the Strasbourg final over Kaja Juvan four days ago, and then for 2 hours and 28 minutes to hold off Magdalena Frech in the first round here, Kerber is still going.
The former World No.1 extended her winning streak to seven matches, though will be relieved to have come through in 2 hours and 4 minutes after withstanding a valiant comeback attempt from 19-year-old Jacquemot in the second set.
Kerber had successully smothered the Frenchwoman's game to take a 6-1, 2-0 lead, keeping a lid on Jacquemot's intermittently impressive shotmaking with greater focus in tight moments. At this point, five games had gone to at least two deuces, and Kerber had won them all.
But Jacquemot, the 2020 Roland Garros girls' champion, kept her head up and was finally rewarded when she broke back for 2-1 after a seven-deuce tussle. She had been demonstrating classic reflexes at net and punishing the Kerber second serve with panache, and the teenager took this energy through the rest of the set.
No.215-ranked Jacquemot struck 44 winners in total to Kerber's 36, but committed 40 unforced errors to the German's 25. Buoyed by her home support, Jacquemot delivered some bold tennis to successfully serve to stay in the match twice, while Kerber's footwork slowed and her intensity dipped.
But experience told in the tiebreak. Kerber remained solid to chase down Jacquemot's dropshots, while the youngster dug herself a hole with a pair of over-enthusiastic forehands.
"You have to fight in tennis, you know," Kerber said afterwards. "I think it's part of the game, as well. Everyone can play tennis. At the end, it's just one, two points which decide matches. You know, I have it inside of me. If it's coming out of me, I'm playing always my best tennis, because I really want it."
Elsewhere, a battle of former Roland Garros semifinalists saw No.15 seed Victoria Azarenka overcome Andrea Petkovic 6-1, 7-6(3) in 1 hour and 48 minutes, twice coming from a break down in the second set. She will next meet the surging No.23 seed Jil Teichmann, who continued her stellar clay swing by defeating qualifier Olga Danilovic 6-4, 6-1 in 78 minutes.
Swiss left-hander Teichmann is coming off a Madrid semifinal and Rome quarterfinal that have bumped her to a career high of No.24, but this marked the first time in 11 attempts that she has reached the third round of a major.
A player who is no stranger to that stage is Elise Mertens. The No.31 seed advanced to her 17th consecutive Grand Slam third round via walkover after Marie Bouzkova withdrew due to a positive Covid-19 test.