Krejcikova ends Gauff’s campaign; Nadal stumbles before powering into the semifinals
Maria Sakkari ended defending champion Iga Swiatek’s 11-match and 22-set winning streaks at Roland-Garros on Wednesday and reached the semifinals of a Major tournament for the first time.
The 17th-seeded Sakkari used a strong and steady baseline play to eliminate Swiatek 6-4, 6-4 at Court Philippe Chatrier in the quarterfinals and ensure that the clay-court tournament will end with a new Grand Slam champion.
All four women remaining in the field are making their Slam semifinal debuts. This is only the second time in the professional era that’s been the case at any major tournament, according to the WTA; there was also a quartet of first-time semifinalists at the 1978 Australian Open.
On Thursday, Sakkari plays unseeded Barbora Krejcikova, and No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova faces unseeded Tamara Zidansek. Krejcikova advanced earlier on Wednesday by beating 17-year-old Coco Gauff 7-6(6), 6-3.
Sakkari, who is from Greece, and Krejcikova, who is from the Czech Republic, are both 25. Each has won only one Tour-level title. Neither had been past the fourth round at a Major until now.
In the day’s first quarterfinal, Gauff led 3-0 at the outset, then 5-3, and held a total of five set points in the opener, but failed to convert any. Krejcikova grabbed that set by taking the last four points of the tiebreaker and reeled off 15 consecutive points during one stretch en route to a 5-0 edge in the second set.
Closing out the most important victory of her singles career was not easy, though. Krejcikova needed six match points to do it, raising her arms overhead when she finally won when Gauff sent a forehand wide.
Krejcikova has won two Grand Slam doubles titles with Katerina Siniakova — and they’re into the semifinals in Paris — but is playing only in her fifth Major tournament in singles.
“Everybody, they just put a label on me like, ‘Yeah, you play doubles. You are a doubles specialist.’ But I never thought I just want to be a doubles specialist,” Krejcikova said.
“So I was just working hard all the time. I just wanted to play singles,” she said.
In the men’s section, Rafael Nadal dropped a set for the first time this year at Roland-Garros but ultimately advanced to the semifinals for a record-extending 14th time. The 13-time champion faced a stiff challenge from gritty 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman before prevailing 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 on Court Philippe Chatrier.