At one point Thursday, as Anhelina Kalinina relentlessly kept ripping winners, Jessica Pegula looked up at her coach, David Witt, and laughed.

“You’re sitting there thinking, 'Gosh, is this seriously happening again?’” Pegula told reporters later. “You don’t want to panic but you start thinking like, 'OK, I need to still step up here. This girl isn’t going to just give it to me, you can feel that momentum shift.’”

Pegula led Kalinina 6-1, 5-1, but for the second match in a row had a hard time closing. Ultimately, she converted her ninth match point with a backhand volley winner and prevailed 6-1, 5-7, 6-4.

This coming after her first-round match against Wang Qiang in which the 28-year-old American needed 10 match points to win. Pegula led 6-2, 5-1 and held on to win 6-2, 6-4.

“I wasn’t playing any really bad points,” Pegula said. “[Wang and Kalinina] were having to win the point against me and I knew that. So I knew I’d get my chance to come back, but today was cutting it a little close.”

On Saturday in a third-round match, the No.11-seeded Pegula meets No.24 Tamara Zidansek, recipient of a walkover when Mayar Sherif withdrew with a leg injury. It's the second career head-to-head encounter for Pegula, an Australian Open quarterfinalist the past two years, and Zidansek, a surprise semifinalist a year ago at Roland Garros.

“I’ve had 19 match points in the last two matches, so I think that’s a record,” Pegula said.

While World No.1 Iga Swiatek, going for her 31st consecutive win when she faces Danka Kovinic, is the overarching headline, three of the eight matches from the top half of the draw involve Americans with a chance to reach the second week and the fourth round.

No.22 Madison Keys draws No.16 Elena Rybakina and Shelby Rogers faces No.20 Daria Kasatkina.

Photo by Jimmie48/WTA

As it turns out, Rybakina and Keys have issued the most aces among Hologic WTA Tour players this season, with 150 and 142, respectively. Rybakina was a 6-4, 6-0 winner against Katie Volynets, while Keys handled Caroline Garcia 6-4, 7-6 (3). The two have never played.

Kasatkina defeated qualifier Fernanda Contreras Gomez 6-0, 6-3 and Rogers upset fellow American No.9 Danielle Collins 6-4, 6-3. Rogers has a 1-0 head-to-head advantage, but that was five years ago in Miami’s second round.

Pegula, who has distinguished herself as a flat-hitting hard-court player, said she worked hard during the offseason, preparing for these matches on clay. She grew up on green clay, but adjusting to red clay, learning how to slide efficiently up to short balls has taken time. She’s worked with Witt on creating heavier topspin and more than just the occasional drop shot.

“I’m glad, even today, I hit a lot of really good drop shots,” Pegula said. “So little stuff like that I think you just have to adjust as far as surfaces and be a little bit more creative on the clay. So I think I've just been embracing that.”

French Open: Scores | Order of play | Draw

It paid off in Madrid last month, where she won five matches and advanced to the final before losing to Ons Jabeur.

Pegula won the only match she’s played against Zidansek, in straight sets, two years ago in Auckland’s Round of 16.

By the numbers

Two years ago, the WTA’s No.54-ranked player won the title at Roland Garros. Swiatek is now the No.1 player in the world, but consider the unlikely case of French wildcard Leolia Jeanjean. Ranked No.227, she defeated No.8 seed Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-2 to advance to Saturday’s third round match opposite Irina-Camelia Begu, a 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4 winner against No.30 Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Jeanjean is the lowest-ranked woman to win a French Open match against a Top 10 player since Conchita Martinez upset Lori McNeil in 1988. A second wildcard, Australian Daria Saville (No.127), also reached the third round. Jeanjean, 26, played college tennis at Arkansas and Lynn in Boca Raton, Florida. To put her rise into context, Begu is only the third Top 100 player she will have faced in her career.

“Yes, I’m very surprised,” Jeanjean said in her post-match press conference. “The Top 50 player I played during the first round [Nuria Parrizas Diaz], I won. I didn’t know I would win. It seems that my level of play disturbs them. I thought that I would not win, but it's not the case. I’m very surprised, but I’m also very happy, because it means that maybe I have the level to be there on the tour.”

Upset Watch

Back to Leolia Jeanjean. Although Irina-Camelia Begu is ranked No.63, far ahead of Jeanjean (No.227), the French wildcard somehow has yet to drop a set.

And finally …

Nineteen-year-old Zheng Qinwen from China – in only her second Grand Slam draw – defeated 2018 Roland Garros champion Simona Halep 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. Zheng won 11 of the last 12 games. Earlier this year, Zheng lost to Halep 6-3, 6-2 in the first Melbourne 250.

In the final second-round match, Alizé Cornet beat 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-0, 1-6, 6-3 to set up a third-round match. Cornet and Zheng have never played.

“I believe that there’s always chance to beat opponent,” Zheng said of Halep, who said she experienced a panic attack during the match. “It doesn’t matter who is in front of me, that she has much more experience than me, and she’s a very good player, a two-time Grand Slam champion. That was one of important experience on me, to stand on big stadium to beat a great player. Yeah, I think I should continue this process.”