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By Julien Pretot
PARIS, June 2 (Reuters) - Former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova came out on top of a vintage claycourt tennis match by outplaying German eighth seed Angelique Kerber 6-4 4-6 6-3 to book her place in the quarter-finals of the French Open on Sunday.
The 2009 champion from Russia, who is not seeded at Roland Garros for the first time since 2003, set up a meeting with world number one Serena Williams, whom she beat in the last eight the year she lifted the Suzanne Lenglen Cup.
Asked if her run revived memories from four years ago, Kuznetsova, who dropped to 85th in the world after a six-month injury layoff after Wimbledon last year, was keeping her feet firmly on the ground.
“I think it’s too far ahead still but it’s always great memories to play here and it’s a pleasure,” she told a news conference.
“I always love to play Paris; always brings the best out of me and feels special.”
The world number 39, Kuznetsova prevailed after two hours 21 minutes of tennis featuring slides, drop shots and lung-burning rallies, far from the usual baseline-biffing contests in force in women’s tennis.
After being broken, Kuznetsova won three games in a row to clinch the opening set with a service winner.
Kerber, however, levelled as she recovered from a break down to take the second set.
Kuznetsova appeared to be the fresher player after repeatedly sending her opponent to chase balls left and right, and she wrapped it up with a forehand winner down the line.
She will need her full repertoire against Williams, who advanced to the last eight in straight sets against Italian Roberta Vinci.
The American has been in ominous form this year and is also hoping to create some new Roland Garros memories, having not triumphed in Paris since claiming her only title in 2002.
“Grand Slam always bring the best out of me,” Kuznetsova, 27, said.
“It just comes naturally. I don’t have to push myself or want something, because in small tournaments it’s a little bit difficult.” (Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Clare Fallon)