The match between the defending champion, Garbi?e Muguruza, and the home favourite, Kristina Mladenovic, on Sunday will surely put a light under the women’s draw in the absence of the game’s biggest names, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, as well as the recently defeated world No1, Angelique Kerber. If Mladenovic were to beat Muguruza, Roland Garros could hardly rise to greet her more enthusiastically than they did after two hours and 48 minutes of drama on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Friday, when Mladenovic recovered from 2-5 down in the third set to beat the American Shelby Rogers, 7-5, 4-6, 8-6. The world No14 said: “That was epic. I still don’t know how I won. Shelby was playing great tennis. She played quarter-finals here last year and has a great game for clay. She really pushed me to the last breath I had.” Novak Djokovic and Andre Agassi partnership hits early rough patch Read more Muguruza, who has not hit the form she showed here a year ago, had a lesser struggle against the 27th seed Yulia Putintseva, taking an hour and 40 minutes to Adrian Peterson Womens Jersey win 7-5, 6-2.

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“The more matches I play and the tougher victories, I think they give you self-confidence,” Muguruza said. “The three matches I have played have not been easy at all. I’m happy I went out there without fear.” She has a little more to be wary of against Mladenovic in the fourth round, as she realises. “Mladenovic is having a good year. She’s won a lot of matches. She’s at home,” she said. The tall, powerful Spaniard admitted she struggles to keep thoughts of last year’s triumph at bay. “I remember last year when I was in the semi-finals I was thinking, like, I’m 25% [towards] lifting the trophy. That’s when I started to think about it. This year, I’m just focusing on my next opponent.” Her next opponent will no doubt be similarly attentive to her homework and keen to avoid the sort of energy-draining angst that flooded on to her racket before a quite stirring fightback. “I think it’s going to be also tough for her,” Mladenovic said. “It’s such a nice head to head coming up for everybody: for the tournament, for the crowd, for us. She’s obviously playing great tennis. I’m looking forward to this one.” Acknowledging she enjoyed the excitement generated by the crowd, she said, “It’s true that, emotionally, it is all quite high at the moment but it’s something I like. It’s something I’m prepared for. It’s not my first time having so many high emotions, big wins, big moments

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