Published: Mon, June 05, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

'Kiki' Mladenovic taking it to another level against Muguruza

Garbine Muguruza's defense of her French Open title ended in tears on Sunday when the Spaniard had to be escorted from the Roland Garros interview room after breaking down following her fourth-round loss to Kristina Mladenovic.

After a jittery opening set, Spanish fourth seed Muguruza rallied but 13th-seeded Frenchwoman Mladenovic perfectly played the key points in the decider to set up a meeting with either Venus Williams or Timea Bascinszky.

A year after showing so much resolve while winning the French Open, Muguruza fell apart down the stretch.

And the 24-year-old appeared energised by the atmosphere as she made an immediate break of serve before taking the set by reeling off four games on the spin to stun the 2016 victor. "She has a great game for clay and she really pushed me through the last breath I had".

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"Everything wasn't flawless. There were a few concerns", Mladenovic said, before joking: "I made about 35 double-faults today, but everything's OK!"

After stunning Serena Williams here to win her first grand slam in 2016, fourth seed Muguruza has struggled to hit those height again in the subsequent 12 months. But it could also be the crafty, cerebral Bacsinszky, who she'll face in the quarterfinals.

The last repeat women's champion at Roland Garros remains Justine Henin, who won the tournament three consecutive years from 2005-07.

"I was a bit nervous and I got more and more nervous", she said.

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"'Kiki, Kiki!" yelled the crowd as Mladenovic, a player born of Serbian parents and who speaks good English and cheers herself up in Italian, negotiated her way through the tricky fourth-round match. I think for the tournament, for the crowd, for us. Pierce went on to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup in 2000, the last Frenchwoman to do so.

She reached the final at the Madrid Open, Stuttgart and in Mexican Open and the semi-finals at the Indian Wells and based on current form, Mladenovic is expected to get past Muguruza.

Earlier, Rafael Nadal tied Roger Federer's record by reaching the French Open quarterfinals for the 11th time.

The rain delay suited Kei Nishikori as he recovered to beat Hyeon Chung 7-5, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 0-6, 6-4 when their third round match resumed at the French Open.

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