Defending champion Francesca Schiavone kissed the clay once more after navigating her way through an error-strewn match to overcome Jelena Jankovic 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours and 38 minutes.
The pair had a long old wait before they could do battle on Suzanne Lenglen for their quarter final place - the preceding match between Fabio Fognini and Albert Montanes surpassing four hours. By the time they took to the dirt the clock was showing 3.45pm, the conditions were sweltering and half the stadium had departed.
For the first two sets, the spectators need not have hurried back. Both were littered with errors and exchanges of breaks. Schiavone's backhand consistently failed her while Jankovic scattered balls far and wide and struggled with her serve.
Feeling the strain
The distinctly rusty pair were feeling the pressure. No.5 seed Schiavone was defending her French Open Crown, while a loss for the tenth-seeded Serb - the longest standing member of the top 10 - would see her drop out of the elite band of players for the first time in more than four years.
The turning point came with Jankovic serving at 4-4. At last, the women served up some superb shot-making, whipping up the crowd for the first time in the match.
Then Jankovic hit a ball long to hand Schiavone a break point. The fiery Italian roared and leapt into the air, and followed this up with another skip and a jump when she subsequently broke. The pumped Milan-based Italian could sniff victory and employed an all-or-nothing strategy in the final game. This included two successful serve volley attempts, which worked in her favour, and soon the precious match was hers.
Schiavone's victory will feel sweet but she will know the match was a mistake-ridden affair. She made 44 unforced errors and hit only 33 winners; while Jankovic made 41 mistakes and only 23 winners. Needless to say, the defending champion will need to work on those stats if she is to stand a chance against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who ousted 3rd seed Vera Zvonareva this afternoon.