Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elina Svitolina have a rich history at Roland Garros. The former was a finalist in Paris two years ago, the latter a three-time quarterfinalist.

But this year, due to disparate circumstances, neither was expected to make much of an impression.

The 31-year-old Pavlyuchenkova missed the majority of the 2022 season with a knee injury and is ranked No.333 among Hologic WTA Tour players. Svitolina, who gave birth to a daughter in October, is at No.192.

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Incredibly, they both find themselves back in the quarterfinals. On Tuesday, Pavlyuchenkova faces Karolina Muchova, and Svitolina will play No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka.

“Right now, I don’t have that pressure that I used to have before,” Svitolina said.” No one expects that I’m going to come into Roland Garros and make quarterfinal at the beginning of the tournament. I don’t think many people would say, `Yeah, she’s going to do it.’

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“That’s why I feel like this really helps me. I feel almost like I’m 17 again coming on the tour fresh. I feel more free.”

And to think that back in April, Svitolina played back-to-back ITF events, in Switzerland and Portugal. Both players used their special ranking -- Pavlyuchenkova No.21 and Svitolina No. 27 -- for direct entry to the main draw.

In her 15th trip to Paris, Pavlyuchenkova is the lowest-ranked woman to reach the Roland Garros quarterfinals in the Open Era, and the lowest in a major since 2017, when No. 418 Kaia Kanepi did it at the US Open.

Here’s a look at the challenges both surprise quarterfinalists are up against:

No.2 Aryna Sabalenka vs. Elina Svitolina

Hard to believe, but Sabalenka is the only seeded player left in the bottom half of the draw. For someone who had never been past the third round at Roland Garros, she’s looked awfully strong.

Sabalenka defeated Sloane Stephens 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the fourth round. She has yet to drop a set and seems unbothered by the fact the No.1 ranking is suddenly within her grasp this fortnight.

Iga Swiatek is defending 2,000 points as the returning champion, while Sabalenka reached the third round last year at Roland Garros (130 points) and also has points from ‘sHertogenbosch (180 points, as runner-up) dropping off her total.

With Sabalenka progressing to the quarterfinals, Swiatek now needs to reach the semifinals for a chance to stay at No.1.

Sabalenka’s 33 victories this year, excluding the Billie Jean King Cup, lead all players, and she’s a perfect 11-for-11 in the Grand Slams.

Svitolina defeated No.9 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 7-6 (5). She’s 7-0 for her career against Kasatkina. She now has 36 wins against Top 10 players, but this one was special because it was only her second in a major.

With husband and French favorite Gael Monfils a fixture in her player box, Svitolina is becoming something of a crowd favorite.

“Last French player standing,” Svitolina said, laughing. “From the first round, people were cheering me on. I have been with Gael for over five years now. I didn’t expect that it would come like this year. But in the end, just thankful for the crowd to be there for me, even though it was some matches I was one set down and coming back to win.”

Head-to-head: The series is 1-all, but both matches went the distance. Sabalenka was a 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 winner in the 2018 Wuhan third round. Svitolina prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 on clay in the 2020 Strasbourg semifinals.

Karolina Muchova vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

It had been nearly two years since Pavlyuchenkova played on Court Philippe Chatrier -- and it seemed to take nearly that long for those sweet memories of her 2021 run to the finals to kick in.

On Sunday, Pavlyuchenkova found herself in a horrific hole against Elise Mertens, trailing 6-3, 3-1 and love-40.

“So actually felt like a lost match already,” Pavlyuchenkova said later, “but I kept on fighting every point, believing, and here I am here.”

Indeed, here she is into the quarterfinals after a memorable comeback victory 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1 over the No.28 seed. Muchova, meanwhile, handled Lucky Loser Elina Avanesyan 6-4, 6-3.

The effort against Mertens consumed 3 hours, 9 minutes -- her second three-hour match of the tournament -- her third three-set match in a row.

“Emotions, I didn’t have much left after this match,” Pavlyuchenkova told reporters. “I think I was still in the match when give an interview on court and after now, just a bit relaxed, and honestly really tired.

“I’m happy, healthy. Physically I’m still holding up and pushing myself. I’m excited for more.”

Certainly, Muchova will be a challenge. Against Avanesyan, she was at her athletic best, throwing in serve-and-volleys, drop shots and even a marvelous, airborne flying forehand. This is the Czech's first time in the second week at Roland Garros and she seems intent on staying a little bit longer.

Head-to-head: Pavlyuchenkova leads the series 2-1 and won their only meeting on clay, two years ago in Madrid. But … four of the seven sets they’ve played have required seven games from the winner.