PARIS, France - Defending champion Garbiñe Muguruza was pushed all the way, but rallied from a set and a break down to defeat Estonia's Anett Kontaveit in the second round of the French Open, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2.
Trailing 3-1 in the second set, Muguruza won five of the last six games to knot the match at one set all, before she also sprinted away with the last four games of the match to move through to the third round.
"I was expecting this kind of match because I played her recently, and I saw her a little bit in the few tournaments before," Mugurza said. "She was just playing good, a lot of confidence. I knew it was going to be a battle out there...losing to her not long ago, I did something different this time.
"I think something different in a good way, so I won the match."
The No.4 seed was handed defeat by Kontaveit in her first match of the clay court season at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, and it seemed that the young Estonian was well on her way to another victory over Muguruza in the span of a month.
A love break in the fourth game of the match put the World No.53 in command as she stayed ahead for the duration of the opener, only to surrender her serve at the first opportunity and see Muguruza draw level at 5-5.
Undaunted, the Estonian was the aggressor in the tiebreak and forced Muguruza into errors to take a 4-0 lead before finally converting on her third set point.
A break in the opening game confirmed Kontaveit's momentum, as she dropped just one point in her first two service games to lead 3-1. However, the tide began to turn on her next trip to the line, as she was unable to convert on a game point at 40-30 en route to losing serve for the first time in the set.
"I think we both were playing pretty good. The level was very high, so it was just kind of who was going to keep it for a long time. Even though I was losing a set [and] 3-1, I think, I didn't give up.
"I was, like, 'Hey, she's going to have to really beat me here.' I didn't let myself [get] down. I kept fighting and turn it around, and then, you know, I just kept doing the same thing until it worked."
The Spaniard was clutch when it mattered in the next game, as Kontaveit bore down to create two break point opportunities to give herself the lead again. However, strong striking from the baseline gave the No.4 seed her first lead of the match, and she later converted on her third set point to cap a lengthy 10th game and level the match at one set apiece.
"I did my best. I mean, there were some moments, some close moments in the second set, where I felt like I could have done a better job," Kontaveit said. "I thought she played well. I had some game points, and I didn't convert them. Made some errors. That hurts a little bit."
From 2-2 in the decider, the defending champion found another gear, and was never taken to deuce in the last four games - which included two service breaks.
She doubled her total of winners (10) versus unforced errors (5) in the final set, while taking advantage of some loose play from Kontaveit. The Estonian struck 13 of her 40 unforced errors, which were balanced by a match-total of 36 winners, in the final set.
" For me, a win is something, the best feeling you can have, especially in a tournament like this, the Chatrier, in a two hour thriller," Muguruza said. "You have to enjoy these moments, because otherwise it's so hard.
"You're always thinking competition, competition. Once you win and you're proud of how you played and all the work you put into it and how it comes out, you have to be happy."