No.14 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia's 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 defeat of No.23 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova from match point down in the third round of Roland Garros was both a personal and a national milestone.
Haddad Maia becomes the first Brazilian woman to reach the last 16 of a Grand Slam since Patricia Medrado at Roland Garros 1979. In those days, the French Open had a 64-player draw and Medrado made the third round; the last Brazilian woman to win three main-draw matches in one major tournament was seven-time Grand Slam champion Maria Bueno, who reached the fourth round of Wimbledon 1976.
Haddad Maia, 27, surged into the Top 20 last summer after winning consecutive grass-court titles in Nottingham and Birmingham, then reaching her first WTA 1000 final in Toronto. She has consolidated that in 2023, with four tour quarterfinals and one semifinal under her belt so far, but a second-week showing at a major had been elusive. Prior to this fortnight, Haddad Maia had seven second-round showings and four first-round exits to show for her 11 main-draw appearances since 2017.
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Haddad Maia defeats Alexandrova 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 to become the first Brazilian woman to reach the last 16 in Paris since Patricia Medrado in 1979.#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/AeBBDYisj5
A maiden second-week appearance was also at stake for Alexandrova, who had lost all five of her previous Grand Slam third round matches. Accordingly, the scoreline fluctuated wildly as both players fought for a long-awaited milestone win. Alexandrova went up 5-1 in the first set, but Haddad Maia levelled at 5-5; Alexandrova closed out the set anyway, only for Haddad Maia to bounce back to win the second.
Haddad Maia had control early in the decider as she took a 4-1 double-break lead, only for Alexandrova to reel off four straight games to reach the brink of victory. Serving down 4-5, Haddad Maia saved a match point by finding a forehand winner after a 15-stroke rally -- and, buoyed by that, essayed the final plot twist by winning the last three games of the contest.
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Having claimed a 2-hour, 48-minute victory, Haddad Maia advances to face Sara Sorribes Tormo in the fourth round, with a first Grand Slam quarterfinal at stake for both. Sorribes Tormo advanced via walkover after the withdrawal of No.4 seed Elena Rybakina due to illness. Haddad Maia is also bidding to become the first Brazilian woman to reach a major quarterfinal since Bueno made the 1968 US Open semifinals.
Haddad Maia and Sorribes Tormo have split four previous encounters, with Sorribes Tormo winning the most recent 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 in the first round of 2022 Melbourne Summer Set 2.