Paris: Sam Stosur powered into the French Open quarter-finals on Tuesday with a straight sets win against Simona Halep, adapting better to damp and heavy conditions that her higher-ranked Romanian opponent called unsafe.
In a match between two former Roland Garros finalists that spanned three days, was often punctuated by drizzle and twice suspended due to rain, the 21st-seeded Australian overcame a slow start to beat Halep 7-6(0), 6-3.
In her fourth Roland Garros quarter-final, Stosur will face 102nd-ranked Tsvetana Pironkova after the Bulgarian's shock three-set win over world number two Agnieszka Radwanska, who also criticised Tuesday's playing conditions.
Organisers lost a whole day's play on Monday, the tournament's first washout since 2000.
Stosur's win was her first against Halep in their last five encounters and marked a sharp turnaround from their previous clash in April, also on clay, in the Madrid Open semifinal, which the Romanian won 6-2, 6-0.
"Madrid was not a good night for me, and ...obviously you get this opportunity to play her again in a big match," Stosur told a news conference.
"Heavy, wet conditions like this don't typically help me too much, but I think today I was able to use them better (than Halep)."
"It was impossible to play, in my opinion," she told reporters while praising her opponent. "I don't care that I lost the match today, but I was close to injuring my back... I didn't feel safe on court."
The first rain stoppage in the match was late on Sunday with Halep leading 5-3, the Romanian's steady pummelling of Stosur's weaker backhand side having paid off in the seventh game when she took the Australian's serve on her third break point.
But Stosur, who lost the 2010 final in Paris to Italy's Francesca Schiavone, was much the sharper when the players resumed on Tuesday.
She consistently served around 20 km/h (12 mph) faster than her opponent and peppered the lines on both sides of the court with forehand groundstrokes that gradually wore down Halep's defences.
Stosur broke back in the 10th game before, after two service holds, blitzing the tiebreak 7-0.
Stosur then broke again at the start of the second set and led 3-2 until play was suspended again when steady drizzle turned heavier, dropping just one further game to close out the match as Halep continued to struggle in the rain-sodden conditions.
Fans were left wet and miserable at a soggy Roland Garros on Tuesday -- but not as drenched or depressed as Agnieszka Radwanska after the world number two's French Open hopes fizzled out following a monumental meltdown against Tsvetana Pironkova.
Leading her Bulgarian rival 6-2, 3-0 when rain halted play on Sunday, Radwanska appeared to have one foot in the quarterfinals.
However, when the fourth-round tussle resumed more than 40 hours later following Monday's washout, the Polish second seed seemed all at sea as the players were forced to play through misty rain.
She lost 10 games in a row as she fell to a 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 defeat by an opponent ranked 100 places below her.
"I'm just so surprised and angry that we have to play in the rain," Radwanska told reporters.
"I mean, it's not a $10,000 tournament. It's a grand slam. How can you allow players to play in the rain? I cannot play in that conditions."
While Radwanska became the highest-ranked player to exit this year's French Open tournament, her defeat also meant that at least five of the top eight women's seeds failed to make their allotted quarter-final spots.
Radwanska, playing with a full-sleeved white top over her sleeveless pink dress, struggled to handle the heavy conditions and the sodden balls on Court Suzanne Lenglen and lost six games in a row to surrender the second set with a forehand error.
A further two hour 45 minute rain disruption failed to improve Radwanska's mood or her fortunes as she fell 4-0 behind in the third set.
The 27-year-old, who called on the trainer to get treatment on her right hand midway through the decider, eventually halted Pironkova's run by breaking the Bulgarian in the fifth game.
But Radwanska could not avoid the embarrassment of being beaten by a player ranked outside the top 100 for the first time in more than seven years when she netted a forehand on Pironkova's second match point.
"I had hand surgery few years ago and I couldn't really play in that conditions. End of story," a fuming Radwanska added.
"For me, playing with those balls in that kind of court is pretty much impossible."
A match that lasted just two hours and 12 minutes on court finally finished at 4.18 pm local time on Monday, almost 46 hours after it had started on Sunday.
"It was very difficult with all the rain as we were waiting almost two days to finish the match," a beaming Pironkova said after becoming the first Bulgarian woman to reach the quarterfinals since Sesil Karantantcheva in 2005.
"But I can't complain."
Djoko made to wait
Play was halted by rain again on Tuesday with world number one Novak Djokovic 3-6, 6-4, 4-1 up against Roberto Bautista Agut in their fourth-round match.
The Serbian top seed lost the opening set to the 14th-seeded Spaniard on Court Philippe Chatrier when play was halted at 12:47 pm local time for the first time.
After an interruption lasting two hours and 45 minutes, the players resumed and Djokovic wasted no time in regaining the lead, only for the match to be stopped again.
Holders Serena Williams and Stan Wawrinka and British second seed Andy Murray, who takes on local favourite Richard Gasquet in the quarterfinals, were also on rained-off schedule.