Caroline Garcia reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros by beating fellow Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 6-2 6-4 on Monday but for the crowd the most anticipated moment was La Bise (The Kiss).
The pair had not been on speaking terms since a controversy surrounding Garcia’s refusal to play in the Fed Cup this year , and they fittingly let their rackets do the talking — although Cornet spent a lot of time talking to herself.
They kissed each other on the cheeks in traditional French fashion at the end of the match after Cornet failed to return a powerful crosscourt forehand, triggering scenes of joy in the Court Philippe Chatrier stands after a 90-minute tussle.
“It was a weird match, these matches are not fun to play. It was crucial to forget what surrounded the game,” Garcia, who knelt and pointed at her box after the victory, said courtside.
“I want to thank my team because they helped me get over what happened in the past few weeks.”
Garcia had been criticised and mocked by Fed Cup team mates Cornet, Kristina Mladenovic and Pauline Parmentier after saying she was injured following a call-up to the squad in April.
The 28th-seeded Garcia, who will take on second seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic for a place in the last four, joins Mladenovic in the quarter-finals, the first time two Frenchwomen have reach that stage since 1994.
Cornet was regarded as a better claycourt player than Garcia, but could not prove it on Monday.
She peppered the court with unforced errors and Garcia read her game easily, anticipating her numerous drop shots.
Garcia broke for 4-2 and again to bag the opening set on Court Philippe Chatrier in front of an unusually quiet crowd, who seemed to hesitate over who to support.
“Allez Caroline Cornet”, one spectator yelled.
Garcia increased the pressure in the second set, racing to a 3-0 lead as Cornet failed to find the key to unlock her rival’s game.
That changed in the seventh game, which lasted 10 minutes, when Cornet finally broke Garcia’s serve to the delight of the crowd, who seemed to want more from the two players.
But Garcia’s ideal scenario was shorter than the fans’, and she broke straight back before serving for the match.
Fighting tooth and nail, Cornet broke again, but consecutive double faults gave Garcia three match points, and she converted the second.