PARIS (Reuters) - Unseeded Danielle Collins battled past Tunisian Ons Jabeur 6-4 4-6 6-4 on Tuesday to reach the French Open quarter-finals for the first time in her career.
World number 57 Collins raised her level after the opening nine games of the first set went with serve, when the American broke to edge ahead in the contest as Jabeur made an unforced error from the back of the court.
The big-hitting 26-year-old then raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set, showing the craftiness more commonly associated with her opponent to pull off a superb drop shot in the second game as Jabeur appeared to wilt on Court Philippe Chatrier.
But the Tunisian, who became the first Arab woman to reach the Roland Garros last 16 by beating eighth seed Aryna Sabalenka, regained focus to win the next five games in a row before dragging the match into a deciding set.
In complete contrast to the opener, both players traded breaks freely at the start of the decider before Collins came back from 0-40 to hold for 3-2 and staved off a late comeback attempt to seal the win.
“I felt I was in the driver’s seat until 6-4 3-0... she’s tricky, served really well and hit some drop shots I wasn’t expecting,” Collins said.
“I had to try and dig it out. It broke my rhythm. I lost my way there a little bit, lost some of the shots I’d been hitting earlier and I needed to try and stay positive.”
Collins, who was without a coach at the U.S. Open where she lost her opener, said she was reaping the rewards of working with Spaniard Nicolas Almagro.
“Nico and I started working with each other last week, it’s all new,” added Collins, who beat 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza in the third round.
“... Luckily I found someone with an incredible career... It’s a special treat to be able to work with him.”
She takes on Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin next, after the fourth-seeded American beat Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro 2-6 6-2 6-1 in their last 16 encounter on Monday.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge
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