A Day Full Of Italian Surprises At Roland Garros

Martina Trevisan and Jannik Sinner (@WTA/Twitter)

WASHINGTON, October 5, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Italians Martina Trevisan and Jannik Sinner are both alive and well in this Paris fortnight. Together, they are through to their first major quarterfinal at the French Open.

In a day full of surprises at Roland Garros on middle Sunday, Court Suzanne-Lenglen was transformed into a piazza d’Italia, first for Trevisan and later Sinner. With their twin victories, Italy will have a player in the quarterfinals of both men’s and women’s singles at a Grand Slam for just the second time in the Open Era.

At first, Trevisan didn’t see where her lob winner landed on match point during her round of 16 match against fifth seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. However, once Trevisan saw the look on her opponent’s face, she knew she had won the biggest match of her life since the last biggest match of her life two days earlier, when she defeated No. 20 seed Maria Sakkari.

The underdog Trevisan beat the favorite Bertens, 6-4, 6-4, in one hour and 35 minutes. Trevisan hit 22 winners that overcame her 27 unforced errors and broke Bertens’ serve six times in 13 tries. Bertens settled for 13 winners but committed 32 unforced errors. Trevisan outpointed her opponent 73-60.

“I saw the face of Bertens that was a little bit sad, so I said, yeah, it is in (laughing),” recalled Trevisan, a native of Florence. “So. in that moment I understood that I won the match.

“Because I didn’t see exactly the mark where it hit but I saw the face of Bertens and I say, ‘Okay, it was good, it’s good.”

Then, Sinner, the reigning Next-Gen ATP Finals champion, became the first since Rafael Nadal in 2005 to reach the French Open quarterfinals in his tournament debut. He took out World No. 7 Alexander Zverev, 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, converting five of six break points against the German to prevail in three hours and one minute.

Sinner, who hails from Sexten in the South Tyrolian Alps, controlled many rallies throughout and hit 39 winners to Zverev’s 20. He was effective at the net, winning 21 of 29 chances. Overall, Sinner outpointed Zverev 133-118.

“It has been tough,” said Sinner on court after the match. “We have practiced sometimes in Monaco, so we know [each other] quite well. Today was very tough, knowing that it was going to be a long match. At the end, I am very happy about my performance.”

On Tuesday, Sinner will play the 12-time French Open champion Nadal, who easily advanced over American qualifier Sebastian Korda, 6-1, 6-1, 6-2.

“It’s not the easiest thing [to play Nadal at Roland Garros], for sure,” said Sinner. “I think the record he has here, I think nobody can beat that. He is super confident here.”

Swiatek pulls off stunning upset of Halep

Shortly before Travisan’s satisfying victory over Bertens, inside a closed Court Philippe-Chatrier, Polish teenager Iga Swiatek (pronounced EE-ga Shvee-ON-tek) continued her amazing run in the upper half of the women’s draw. Ask Swiatek and the 19-year-old will tell you she’s have a blast – amazing fun – which is how one might best describe her 6-1, 6-2 take down of World No. 2 and top seed Simona Halep that lasted just 68 minutes and was done with tremendous efficiency.

Halep entered the French Open as the prohibitive favorite, thanks largely to a 17-match winning streak that dated back before the tour stoppage in March, and included titles won in Dubai before the hiatus and on clay in Prague and Rome since the WTA restart last month.

Swiatek hit 30 winners and committed just 20 unforced errors, compared to Haleps’ 12 and 15, respectively. Swiatek outpointed Halep 66-43.

“All the credit to her,” said Halep. “She played unbelievable today and she was everywhere and she hit all the balls in very strong, very powerful.

“It was a little bit cold and I couldn’t be at my best, but, yeah, she played really well and her match was like, no, it was her match today.”

Swiatek said of her victory over Halep: “It was kind of like the perfect match for me.”

Svitolina, Podoroska reach quarterfinals

With Halep gone, No. 3 seed Elina Svitolina is the highest remaining seed in the women’s draw. She advanced with a 6-1, 6-3 thrashing of France’s Caroline Garcia in 63 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The Ukrainian converted six of 13 break points, won 60 percent of her receiving points and hit 10 winners against the 45th-ranked Garcia.

“For me, the goal is to win every single match that I step on the court,” Svitolina said after her victory that moved her into the French Open quarterfinals. “I don’t really care, you know, if it’s first round or it’s quarterfinal. I’m trying to have the same routine as every single match. 

“It’s important to not get too high and get too low. You always have to keep the balance of just keeping your head down and working for it to get the win and to get the good results.”

Svitolina said it was important to try to focus on the task of winning and to not be affected by the support the French crowd showed for Garcia. “I think I did really well today to not focus on what’s happening around,” she said. “For sure, they were trying to push [Garcia] to come back into the match. But in the end, I was playing really good tennis. I think being really focused really helped me.”

Next, Svitolina will face 131st-ranked qualifier Nadia Podoroska, the first Argentinian woman into the last eight at Roland Garros since Paolo Suarez in 2004 after coming from behind to defeat No. 114 Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, 2-6, 6-2, 6-3, in two hours and 11 minutes.

Podoroska arrived at Roland Garros having never won a Grand Slam main draw match or back-to-back matches at the WTA Tour level. Now, she’s into the quarterfinal round against the World No. 5 Svitolina, who has dropped just one set during the fortnight.

“At the end of the first set I start to moving better than at the beginning,” Podoroska said after her victory. She finished with 36 winners and outpointed Krejcikova 94-86. “I started to him more my forehand, and then in the second set, I think because of that she started to do more mistakes. Fortunately, I could break her serve. Then I start to feel a little bit better. 

“For me, the key was just trying to be the most focused I can. Today was very windy. I didn’t feel so good at court … but the key for me was trying to be positive and not think too much on that.”

A tale of two No. 1 doubles seeds

• Men’s No. 1 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, both from Colombia, are through to the quarterfinal round after beating No. 15 seeds Jurgen Melzer of Austria and Edouard Roger-Vasselin from France, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (3). Defending champions and No. 8 seeds Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, both of Germany, are also into the quarterfinals and will meet No. 13 seeds Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski, both of Great Britain.

• Women’s No. 1 seeds Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan and Barbora Strycova from the Czech Republic, ranked No. 1, were upset by No. 14 seeds Alexa Guarachi from Chile and Desirae Krawczyk of the United States, 6-4, 7-5. Defending champions and No. 2 seeds Timea Babos of Hungary and Kristina Mladenovic from France are through to the quarterfinals after defeating the all-Romanian team of Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig, 6-2, 6-3.

By the numbers

• Jannik Sinner, who has lost just one set during the Paris fortnight (12-1) is the first player to reach the Roland Garros quarterfinals in his main draw debut since Rafael Nadal in 2005. Sinner has three Top 10 wins this season. He defeated No. 10 David Goffin in Rotterdam, beat No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas in Rome, and No. 7 Zverev at the French Open. Sinner is also the youngest quarterfinalist at Roland Garros since Novak Djokovic (19) in 2006.

• No. 159 Martina Trevisan and No. 131 Nadia Podoroska are the first qualifiers to make the Roland Garros women’s quarterfinals since Yaroslava Shvedova in 2012. It’s also the first time since 1978 that two qualifiers have reached the last eight.

• With Rafael Nadal’s 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 victory over qualifier Sebastian Korda, he’s reached the Roland Garros quarterfinals for a record 14th time. He improved to 97-2 lifetime in Paris and he’s unbeaten in his last 27 French Open matches. This marks the eighth time Nadal has reached the quarterfinals without dropping a set through his first four matches.

• According to the WTA Insider, Nadia Podoroska was ranked No. 255 at the start of the season. She has now won 42 matches across all levels this year. Podoroska will make her Top 100 debut after becoming the first Argentinian woman to reach the last eight in Paris since Paola Suárez in 2004.

• There are three players in the upper half of the men’s singles draw who have yet to lose a set: Novak Djokovic (9-0 in sets, 15 games lost); Grigor Dimitrov (8-0 sets, 22 games lost); and Daniel Altmaier (9-0 sets, 38 games lost).

• Entering Monday, there are just four seeds left in the women’s draw, with two fourth-round matches left until the quarterfinal pairings are set. The seeds remaining are: No. 3 Elina Svitolina, No. 4 Sofia Kenin, No 7 Petra Kvitova and No. 30 Ons Jabeur.

What they’re saying

• Martina Trevisan: “I would like to thank all the people back home who are writing to me and sending me messages. I feel close to you even if I am far away. I’d kiss you all – I can’t, but it’s as if I would be doing it now.”

• Iga Swiatek: “Right now, I’m more experienced; I can handle the pressure. So, I feel like I’m grown up to play a match like that and to win it. So, everything went well. I did everything that my coach told me about tactics. So, it was kind of like [the] perfect match for me.”

• Jannik Sinner: “It’s not the easiest thing [to play Nadal at Roland Garros], for sure. I think the record he has here, I think nobody can beat that. He is super confident here.”

• Simona Halep: “I realize it was a fantastic year with all the tough moments that we all had, so I’m not going to ruin the whole year just for a match. Of course, it’s not easy to take it, but I’m used to some tough moments in this career. … So, I will have a chocolate and I will be better tomorrow.”