Ashley Harkleroad notched the biggest victory of her brief career Wednesday, winning a French Open marathon against No. 9-seeded Daniela Hantuchova 7-6 (2), 4-6, 9-7.
With the win, the 18-year-old American advanced to the third round of a Grand Slam event for the first time.
Harkleroad won despite blowing a 5-1 lead in the third set and losing five consecutive games. The letdown left her on the verge of defeat, and her eyes welled with tears.
"I was so tight and wanting it so bad, I guess," she said. "I said, `OK, Ashley, you're not going to lose this. You're going to fight.' I tried to breathe and relax."
Harkleroad regrouped, and after three hours, eight minutes of tennis, she earned the first match point. When Hantuchova sailed her final shot wide, Harkleroad squealed, dropped her racket and sprinted to the stands for celebratory hugs.
Defending champion Serena Williams won with much less drama. She overcame 32 unforced errors and extended her Grand Slam winning streak to 30 matches, beating Marie-Gaianeh Mikaelian 6-3, 6-2.
Another marathon involved 1996 champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who was eliminated in the 30th five-set match of his career. Flavio Saretta of Brazil, ranked 78th on the ATP Tour, outlasted the No. 17-seeded Russian 6-4, 3-6, 6-0, 6-7 (0), 6-4 in three hours, 55 minutes.
"In the beginning of the fifth set, I was ready to collapse," Kafelnikov said. "It's not a nice feeling when in the back of the head you want to finish the match as quick as possible."
No. 22-seeded Wayne Ferreira, playing in his 50th Grand Slam event, beat David Ferrer 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3. No. 7 Guillermo Coria and No. 11 Rainer Schuettler also won.
No. 27 Mikhail Youzhny, Russia's Davis Cup hero at Paris last December, lost to Attila Savolt 3-6, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.
Among the women, No. 4 Justine Henin-Hardenne, No. 8 Chanda Rubin, No. 14 Eleni Daniilidou, No. 16 Ai Sugiyama, No. 18 Meghann Shaughnessy and No. 19 Patty Schnyder all advanced.
Harkleroad, a runner-up in the juniors at Roland Garros last year, is ranked 52nd. She has drawn comparisons to Anna Kournikova, and her matchup with the equally photogenic Hantuchova attracted a crowd of cheering youngsters who made Court 1 sound like a schoolyard playground.
The two blond opponents appeared almost identical because they wore matching powder-blue outfits -- to their dismay.
"It's a nice color," Hantuchova, who had reached the quarterfinals in the last three major events, said with a rueful smile. "But I don't think it's good when both of us are wearing the same thing."
Despite some sloppy shotmaking, the match was filled with entertaining, scrambling exchanges. Through a series of momentum swings, Harkleroad showed impressive persistence.
"Sometimes I was going too much for it and doing too many mistakes," Hantuchova said. "In the end, it was just a couple of points that decided the match."
Henin-Hardenne beat Jelena Kostanic 6-2, 6-2, while Rubin defeated Cara Black 7-6 (6), 6-3.
Daniilidou outlasted Tathiana Garbin 6-0, 4-6, 6-2. Sugiyama eliminated Sandra Kleinova 7-5, 6-0, and Schnyder defeated Stephanie Cohen Aloro 6-3, 7-6 (4).
Lindsay Davenport overcame three set points and beat Iroda Tulyaganova 7-5, 6-1 Thursday to reach the third round of the French Open for the first time since 1999.
Davenport, seeded sixth, is playing in her first tournament since being married April 25 in Hawaii. She has won three Grand Slam titles but none since 2000.