Podoroska Continues To Make History At Roland Garros

PARIS/STARNBERG, October 6, 2020 (by Alessandro Boroch)

Twenty-three-year-old Nadia Podoroska continues to make history in Paris following a straight-set win over No. 3 seed Elina Svitolina.

The Argentinian No. 1 player managed to upset Svitolina 6-2, 6-4 in just 80 minutes. With her win, Podoroska became the first qualifier in the Open Era at Roland Garros to reach the semi-finals.

“It’s difficult for me to speak after the match, but thanks everyone for your support. I’m very, very happy!” she explained.

“I try to play every kind of shot. We did a good job with my coaches during quarantine. I’ve been training a lot with all of my team and I think that’s why I’m here today.”

During the course of the match, huge favorite Svitolina could not build up patterns of consistency on serve, holding just one of her 10 service games.

“It was a tough match for me today. Lots of things didn’t go my way,” Svitolina said. “I wish I could have handled it in a different way.

“She played a really great match. I wasn’t 100% mentally on it today and that was really disappointing.

“I think it was really tough for me to find focus. I didn’t perform as I wish I could and in the end I completely dropped my level. I gave her the opportunity to play really good tennis.”

Podoroska, who extended her 2020 win-loss record to 43-6 by reaching the semi-finals, had never beaten a Top 10 player before this fortnight. The Argentinian has made significant steps in the live-rankings, having entered the main draw ranked World No. 131, and now being ranked inside the Top 50 thanks to her fairytale run.

Iga Swiatek remains flawless in Paris

Next, Podoroska will face another unseeded player, namely Iga Swiatek, who overcame 26-year-old Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1 in a late evening match on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

The 19-year-old Polish rising star has not dropped a single set en route to the semifinals, having beaten players such as No. 1 seed Simona Halep or last year’s Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova in the first round.

Once again, Swiatek has been the more active player, hitting 20 winners and going for high-risk returns (winning 57 per cent points on return).

Swiatek is the first woman from Poland to reach the final four in the Open Era at Roland Garros.

“It was pretty hard at the beginning, because it’s hard to get used to the conditions,” said Swiatek. “Martina played a great tournament, she was just on fire from the beginning, so a big congratulations for her. I’m just so happy.”

Schwartzman into first Grand Slam semifinal

Diego Schwartzman was pushed hard by his close friend and two-time Roland Garros runner-up Dominic Thiem, but eventually secured a hard-fought 7-6(1), 5-7, 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-2 victory after more than five hours, to overcome the barrier of earning a maiden final four spot at major level. The win also guarantees him a spot in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday.

In the second set [and] the third set, I had a lot of opportunities, also easy opportunities,” said Schwartzman. “That’s why I was really upset, really angry with myself at the time in the second and in the third, when I was close to winning those sets. It was a tough situation, because in the fourth, he started playing so well. I did come back, serving 5-4, 40/0. He played three unreal points, amazing points, because he’s one of the best and he can do it. At that time I was thinking, ‘Okay, c’mon, today it’s not going to happen.”

In the final fifth set, Schwartzman ultimately had the fitness edge over reigning US Open champion Thiem, as the 28-year-old Argentinian saved a lot of power by winning each of his previous matches in straight sets, while Thiem was just coming from a tough five-set fourth-round battle against French wild card Hugo Gaston.

“At the end, I gave everything I had out there,” said Thiem. “It was an amazing match. I think the first in my career over five hours. Diego fully deserves it.

“I came back unbelievably in the fourth set. When he served for it at 5-4, 40/0, I played this down-the-line winner. The match was basically all the time on the edge for both of us. [In the] tie-break at 5-5, he played a great point. With that, I think he had a little advantage in the fifth set. I think, if I would have wanted to win that match, I should have done it in four [sets]. In the fifth set, he was just a little bit fresher and better than me.

Before this fortnight, Schwartzman had never beaten a Top 5 opponent at a Grand Slam tournament. After overcoming one of the biggest threats on clay by defeating Thiem, Schwartzman could next face 12-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal. Despite holding an 1-9 record against the “King of Clay”, Schwartzman should be decently confident going into a potential meeting, having beaten the 34-year-old Spaniard in Rome just two weeks ago for the first time in his career.