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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kuznetsova Rallies for French Open Win

ReutersSvetlana Kuznetsova shaking hands with Andrea Petkovic of Germany after defeating her in their match at the French Open tennis tournament at Roland Garros in Paris on Wednesday, May 26.

PARIS — Playing on the court nicknamed the bullring, defending French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova found herself backed into a corner facing triple match point.

An hour later, she was at the net for a handshake and into the third round.

The Russian's great escape came Wednesday against Andrea Petkovic, who held four match points in the second set but lost 4-6, 7-5, 6-4.

"The one thing in the world I want is to be here right now, and I want to win so badly," the No. 6-seeded Kuznetsova said. "From here on, I move on much more confident."

Petkovic, ranked 41st, was on the verge of her second career win over a Top Ten player serving at 5-4, 40-love in the second set against Kuznetsova. The Russian was so upset about her circumstances she whacked herself on the thigh with her racket.

"You're in a situation where you don't think a lot," Kuznetsova said. "But as I remember, I put spin on the ball, so I didn't give her easy balls. She was nervous. ... I have experience, so I have to let her play. This is normally what you would do. You would not lose; you would make the other one win."

The strategy worked. Petkovic dumped a backhand into the net, whacked an errant forehand and pulled a backhand wide for deuce. She won the next rally to reach match point again, then groaned when she put another backhand in the net.

Two points later, Kuznetsova pushed a backhand up the line for a winner to reach 5-all. She broke again to take the set and even the match.

Petkovic could have folded, and indeed she fell behind 5-2 in the final set before regaining the aggressive form she showed in the early going. Kuznetsova needed four match points of her own to close out the victory, and finally did so when the German sailed a backhand long.

"It's sad and disappointing, but it's OK," Petkovic said. "It's a good experience for me playing the defending champion here and playing a good match and seeing where I stand compared to the top players."

Kuznetsova arrived in Paris as the only woman in the top 10 with a losing record this year. The two-time Grand Slam champion must reach the semifinals to avoid dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since April 2006, and she's confident that she can build on the comeback victory.

"I stood up there strong and I passed this round," she said.