PARIS, France - No.28 seed Caroline Garcia thrilled the home crowd by becoming the second French woman into the Roland Garros quarterfinals, surviving a tense two-setter with countrywoman, Alizé Cornet, 6-2, 6-4.
"I don't know if I realize yet that it's the quarterfinals," Garcia said after the match. "Maybe it's good I haven't. I just want to stay focused on the game, which is more important.
"When I arrived here, I was not thinking about this at all. I was just wanting to play my game, try to improve and enjoy the French Open the most I can."
Garcia won the women's doubles title a year ago, but was playing in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career. Cornet had reached the fourth round for the second time in two years after crushing No.9 seed Agnieszka Radwanska earlier in the week.
"I was not feeling any negative pressure. It was only positive. I've been super motivated since yesterday. I wanted to practice, and I was very focused on what I had to do to be ready for the match. Even playing on Philippe Chatrier, I was just going for it. I was pretty happy I was going to play on this court against Alizé Cornet.
"It wasn't a super nice atmosphere because fans were a little bit 50/50, but it was good."
The duo were evenly matched through the first four games, with Cornet getting the first break point in the third game.
Garcia saved it and went on a roll from there, winning seven straight games to find herself up a set and 3-0.
"I just went for it. Everyone was waiting for a very cold match, and I'm sure that everyone watched this match to see what was going to happen.
"I just tried to stay like a professional player. I play tennis because I enjoy it, and I don't want to get any fight with anyone. What happen, happened. We never forget about it. Tennis is a game. I play to enjoy and that's it."
Cornet kept it close as the youngster got close to the finish line, getting her first break of the match after saving three game points that would have left her down 5-2.
Garcia duly broke back but her nerves were palpable on Court Philippe Chatrier as she threw in a ghastly double fault when serving for the match.
"Before, I would have a lot of negative thoughts," she said of the center court. "Today I was able to push these out. I was very happy to play on Chatrier today. It's a beautiful court.
"There are a lot of reasons why sometimes it can be difficult to play. When the wind blows, it swirls around you and it makes the playing conditions more difficult."
She regained her composure in record time, however, and immediately broke serve one last time to clinch the career-best result after 89 minutes on court.
"I was super motivated, super determined, and I was able to keep this from the beginning to the end. Even if there was a bit of a dip in the second set, I was really able to stay focused."
In all, it was an aggressive display from Garcia with 16 winners and 26 unforced errors, five more winners but just two more errors than Cornet, who won just eight points behind her second serve.
Most impressively, Garcia improved to 7-0 against her fellow Frenchwomen on the WTA level.
"Someone told me that two days ago. I can't explain it. In this match where it was sometimes a difficult atmosphere, I just tried to be focused on myself, my game.
"For now I'm doing it good."
Up next for the French star is No.2 seed Karolina Pliskova, who will also contest her first Roland Garros quarterfinal after edging past Veronica Cepede Royg in three sets on Court Suzanne Lenglen. Though Garcia los their most recent meeting at the Qatar Total Open, she took a three-set victory over the Czech powerhouse last fall at the Fed Cup final.
"Karolina is a great player. Maybe clay is not her best surface yet, but we know she can do a lot of damage with her serve and forehand. It will be my first quarterfinal. She has a little experience, she's in the top 10 couple of months and years now. It will be a very important match.
"I'm sure the crowd will help me like it did in Fed Cup. It's different atmosphere, but I'm really looking forward for this match and to see a real atmosphere, because today it was a 50/50. I just want to enjoy it and play the best I can."