Puerto Rico's Monica Puig returns a shot against France's Kristina Mladenovic during day four of the 2016 Eastbourne International tennis tournament at at Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, England, Thursday, June 23, 2016. (Steve Paston/PA via AP) UNITED
AP Photo
June 23, 2016

EASTBOURNE, England (AP) Monica Puig became the first qualifier to reach the Eastbourne International semifinals in three years though it took her nearly three hours to get there on Thursday.

Puig, a Puerto Rican, needed 2 hours, 43 minutes to overcome Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-6 (6), 4-6, 6-3, and become the first qualifier in the semis since American Jamie Hampton in 2013.

Both players struggled to hold serve, with Puig facing 23 break points in the match and Mladenovic 13.

Mladenovic broke three times in the opening set and led 5-4, but each time allowed her opponent to break back in the following game before failing to convert a set point in the tiebreaker.

In the second set, Mladenovic also failed to win three set points at 5-2 and to serve out the set at 5-3 before breaking in the 10th game. In the final set, Puig broke in the first and final games to secure victory.

''We were both putting so much pressure on each other's serves,'' Puig said. ''So it was just staying mentally tough.''

Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic and 2010 champion Ekaterina Makarova of Russia won third-round matches that had been suspended overnight. Pliskova defeated Misaki Doi of Japan 6-2, 6-4, and Makarova rallied to overcome Andrea Petkovic of Germany 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.

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