Third seed Amelie Mauresmo of France survived an early scare before earning her qualification to the fourth round of the French Open with a straight-sets win over Spain’s Arantxa Parra Santonja.
The 24-year-old displayed all her best shots to defeat her opponent 6-3 6-2 in one hour and seven minutes after battling back from a 3-0 deficit to win six games in a row and claim the first set in 33 minutes.
Mauresmo, who is still in search of her first Grand Slam title – her best performance to date was reaching the 1999 Australian Open final – lost her serve again at the start of the second set to be led 2-1 by Parra Santonja.
But the Spaniard failed to hold on to her advantage and allowed Mauresmo to level at 2-2 before the home favourite reeled off the next four games to seal victory in imposing fashion.
Earlier, fifth seed Lindsay Davenport also progressed to the next round by defeating compatriot Marissa Irvin 6-1 6-4.
Davenport, who has won three Grand Slams in her career – the US Open in 1998, Wimbledon in 1999 and the Australian Open in 2000 – appears to be one of the favourites to win this year’s trophy alongside crowd favourite Mauresmo and the Williams sisters after the elimination of top seed Justine Henin-Hardenne.
And at the prospect of winning the sole Grand Slam she has never lifted, she said:
“I would be amazed, I’d probably have to retire here on the spot.
“I couldn’t imagine the feelings if I were to win here, the first one in over four years, it would be pretty remarkable I would think.”
Eighth seed Nadia Petrova of Russia suffered an early exit as she went down to a straight-sets defeat to unseeded German Marlene Weingartner.
Weingartner scored an emphatic 6-3 6-2 success and will face Russian 18th seed Maria Sharapova in the fourth round.
Sharapova scored her best win ever on clay to beat compatriot and 10th seed Vera Zvonareva, 6-3 7-6.
Zheng Jie beat Italian Tathiana Garbin 5-7 7-6 6-2 to become the first Chinese player to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam event.