No.2 seed Kristina Mladenovic needed three sets and over three and a half hours but she's through to the Acapulco quarterfinals after a marathon battle against Heather Watson.
WTA Staff

ACAPULCO, Mexico - No.2 seed Kristina Mladenovic needed three sets and over three and a half hours but she's through to the quarterfinals at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel after a marathon battle against Heather Watson, 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 7-5.

The epic, three-hour-and-thirty-two minute encounter clocks in as the longest WTA match of the season so far; only Svetlana Kuznetsova and Jelena Jankovic's Australian Open battle was longer at three hours and thirty-six minutes.

"Oh my god, what can I even say," an exhausted Mladenovic told wtatennis.com after the match. "The conditions here were very difficult - the humidity is ridiculous and I think we both struggled physically."

The blistering conditions in southern Mexico were heating up even more on Grandstand Caliente, with Mladenovic employing her doubles prowess to attack at the net and Heather staying solid from the baseline. The Frenchwoman struggled with her throughout the match, racking up nine double faults in the first set alone - she would hit 20 in total.

There were several twists and turns as both players struggled to establish momentum; Watson started off with a strong trio of breaks to give herself a 4-1 lead, before Mladenovic reeled off four games in a row to rip it away. Mladenovic edged through in the tiebreak, winning four points on the bounce from 4-4 to take the opening set.

The pair traded breaks twice in the second set, with Watson holding her nerve to break back each time as Mladenovic continued to apply all-court pressure, but the Brit relied on her down-the-line backhands to see her through in the second tiebreak.

Watson showed her grit to bat away two of Mladenovic' match points at 5-3 in the third with a stinging, crosscourt backhand, before another double fault from the Frenchwomen gave her the break back. After managing to level the score at 5-5, Watson seemed to run out of steam, winning just three points in the next two games as Mladenovic closed out the match.

Despite Watson's 59 winners to 29 unforced errors against Mladenovic's 22 and 23, it was Mladenovic who proved more solid in the big moments, creating and converting more break opportunities.

"These kind of matches, I'm not really satisfied with the way I played - I'm not sure it was really the best quality tennis - but I'm actually very satisfied with the fighting," Mladenovic explained.

"We both of us, we never gave up. It was up and down; I was down big time in the first set and I came back and won it. I also had match points in the end and she saved them, actually beautifully, and she came back.

"That was just grit. A mental battle. I'm just satisfied and proud to pull this one through."

Mladenovic will be right back on Grandstand Caliente tomorrow to take on Kirsten Flipkens for a spot in the Acapulco semifinals. The Belgian advanced after Ajla Tomljanovic was forced to retire from their match due to a right shoulder injury.