'Kiki' Mladenovic taking it to another level against Muguruza

'Kiki' Mladenovic taking it to another level against Muguruza

'Kiki' Mladenovic taking it to another level against Muguruza

The Frenchwoman threw in seven double faults in set three (and fourteen in the final two sets) but was able to save each of the three break points she faced and limited Muguruza to only three winners in the stanza.

The two-time Wimbledon singles champion may only have been playing in her second match since a fight with an intruder in her own home in December required hand surgery, but she showed grit and determination in a close defeat to American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5).

Muguruza overpowered Yulia Putintseva 7-5 6-2, following up wins over Francesca Schiavone and Anett Kontaveit. "It's important that each match I've played here has not been easy". I'm happy I went out there without fear.

She said in her post-match interview: "It's a match that was eagerly awaited by everyone, myself included".

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The highest-ranked Frenchwoman in the world, Mladenovic is the home crowd's most likely source of national pride in Paris.

She defeated former runner-up Sara Errani in the second round and Shelby Rogers in the third and despite not being a 100 percent leading up to the tournament, Mladenovic's back injury has not been affecting her. "I served 35 doubles but it's good because you give me so much strength", added Mladenovic, who has been tipped as one of the tournament favorites after reaching the finals in Stuttgart and Madrid on clay this season.

A tougher test awaits in the fourth round, though, with holder Muguruza Mladenovic's next opponent.

Only five of the top 10 seeds now remain in the draw. Williams next faces No. 30 seed Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland.

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Bacsinszky's reward is a showdown with veteran great Williams.

Mladenovic said: "It's a tough draw, but I think it's also tough for her".

"Twenty years ago? Wow", she said. "I'll be honest there won't be 20 more".

And Mladenovic fed off that backing, delivering her first love hold of the match in her next service game before making one last break to clinch a victory that sent her supporters wild. The Australian's fourth-round opponent will be Jelena Ostapenko, who was also a straight-sets victor over Lesia Tsurenko.

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