(Reuters) – Lesia Tsurenko overcame a sudden onset of self doubt after her 30th birthday with a gritty display to beat Aleksandra Krunic in the French Open second round and the Ukrainian will seek another shot in the arm when she meets Simona Halep on Saturday.
Tsurenko sealed the second-round win by taking the deciding third set 11-9 after bad light stopped play on Thursday — her birthday — and said the result had helped her deal with the mental conflict.
“I feel relieved now… I said this morning to myself that probably if I’m not going to win this match there would be a very big mental problem in future for me,” Tsurenko said.
“But I was, like, you have to win this match just to prove to yourself that you can handle everything. That was my goal today. And I did it. I’m just happy that I did it.
“It was really tough mentally to play and at the end my body was just not listening to me… being a tennis player, at some point you think no, no, no. I’m going to fight. And this is exactly what happened.”
Tsurenko has never beaten defending champion Halep in seven career meetings, including two matches in February, but she said she was looking forward to the pair’s third-round meeting.
“I’m actually really excited to play Simona again this year,” the world number 27 said.
“We played a few times already… I think that matches like it makes me better. Win or lose, it’s always good experience and it’s always, like, positive for your future.”
In other matches on the main showcourts, Novak Djokovic takes on unseeded Italian Salvatore Caruso while Alexander Zverev faces Dusan Lajovic.
Serena Williams continues her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title against fellow American Sofia Kenin. Naomi Osaka, who has endured difficult matches in her previous two rounds, takes on Katerina Siniakova.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis