PARIS/STARNBERG, October 7, 2020 (by Alessandro Boroch)
When fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Andrey Rublev to secure a spot in the semi-finals at Roland Garros, he made some history on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Wednesday. The World No. 6 became the first Greek player to reach the stage of the last four at the French Open. Tsitsipas took revenge for his Hamburg European Open final loss against Rublev just two weeks ago, earning a 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 win in one hour and 55 minutes.
The match started difficult for Tsitsipas, as Rublev early found his power on the forehand side, securing the first break of the match at 3-2, and eventually served for a one-set lead at 5-3. However, Tsitsipas remained composed and began to match Rublev’s firing forehand, which helped him to win the next four games, switching the whole momentum of the match.
Stefanos Tsitsipas rolled past Rublev to make a first #RolandGarros semi-finals.
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) October 7, 2020
“I have been feeling really comfortable playing on this court,” Tsitsipas said on court. “Despite not having a good start and being a break down, I remembered what a big fighter I am. It’s also about fighting and trying to find solutions in difficult moments, and I managed.”
The Greek won 16 of the final 21 games, hitting 35 winners compared to just 17 unforced errors. It will be the second semi-final appearance at a major for 22-year-old Tsitsipas after reaching the stage of the last four at the Australian Open last year thanks to convincing victories over Roger Federer and Roberto Bautista-Agut.
Djokovic overcomes injury struggle
Next, Tsitsipas will face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, seeking his first Grand Slam final.
The 17-time major champion from Serbia, whose only French Open title win came in 2016 when he completed his career Grand Slam, was pushed hard at times on his way to a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 victory against No. 17 seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.
When Djokovic stepped on court, it was noticeable that he had a big tape on the back of his neck. During the match, he received treatment on his left biceps and neck quite a few times, before eventually taking a medical time-out in the second set to get treatment on his left arm.
In the first set, Djokovic could not quite cope with the task of being the aggressor against an overall very solid Carreno Busta, who eventually punished the top seed for his sloppiness by producing 16 unforced errors.
However, as the match progressed, Djokovic was more and more edging in key moments, finally winning easier points in short rallies and landing his crucial drop shots when needed.
With his win, Djokovic has advanced to the semi-final stage at Roland Garros for the tenth time in his career. He has improved his win-loss record in 2020 to 36-1.
Top moments from the 🔝 player
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) October 7, 2020
“I definitely didn’t feel great coming into the court today,” revealed Djokovic. “Few things happened in the warm-up. I had to deal with those physical issues coming onto the court. As the match went on, I felt better, didn’t feel as much pain.
“I’m feeling okay. As the match progressed, I warmed up my body, and the pain kind of faded away. It allowed me to play better and better and feel better.”
He added: “I don’t want to get really too much into it. Obviously I’m still in the tournament, so I don’t want to reveal too much.”
Kvitova reaches first Roland Garros semifinal since 2012
On the women’s side, two-time major champion Petra Kvitova ended the great run of unseeded German player Laura Siegemund, winning 6-3, 6-3 in 80 minutes to book her first spot in the semi-finals at Roland Garros since 2012.
“I’m proud of everything I did today,” Kvitova said. “Since I woke up, I felt pretty nervous. Going into the match, I knew it would be a big fight for every point.
“She’s a tricky opponent, she has lots of variety in her game. Of course, playing the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam, nothing is easy with nerves.
“I’m happy with my side, with the mental side, and how I handled the pressure out there.
During the course of the match, Kvitova dominated the rallies from the baseline, hitting 22 winners compared to just 12 winners from her 32-year-old opponent. Furthermore, Kvitova was able to secure more free points with her serve, producing six aces and losing just seven points on her first serve (24/31).
“Of course, I’m happy with my game as well. I served very well in the first set. Then it was a little bit about a few points. When I lost serve I broke her back, I was there, still staying positive and that was a big advantage for me today,” she continued during her press conference.
The 30-year-old former No. 2 from Czech Republic will be back in the Top 10 thanks to her results in Paris, currently sitting on World No. 8 in the live-rankings but eyeing a Top 5 spot with a potential title win on Saturday.
Kvitova, along with Iga Swiatek, has not lost a single set en route to the semi-finals at Roland Garors.
“To be honest right now to be in the semi-final after everything I have been through… it probably means more because I couldn’t imagine that I can be in the semi-final of the Grand Slam and final of the Australian Open even before. So it’s another miracle happening to me.”
Kvitova will face reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin next for a first final appearance in Paris.
Kenin continues to impress on major-level
No. 4 seed Kenin improved to 15-1 at major level this year following a 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 win over fellow American Danielle Collins. Prior to this fortnight, Kenin had only participated twice in the main draw of Paris, having reached the fourth round last year after upsetting Serena Williams. Now, Kenin progressed to the semi-finals, eyeing her second Grand Slam final appearance of the season.
“This is really special, I’m super happy and I’m just really loving the French crowd here,” said Kenin, who entered the quarter-final trailing Collins 0-3 in previous meetings.
“I know she plays really aggressive; I knew I needed to have a higher first-serve percentage, play aggressive myself and take my chances. I feel like I did a great job overall.”
The first two sets of the match were evenly tied, with Collins asking for medical attention in the second but still forcing a decider.
Collins, however, looked slightly tired going into the final set, not having had a rest day prior to this quarter-final clash due to her postponed fourth-round match.
Ultimately, Kenin rushed through the third set by crushing Collins’ serve, letting her win just three out of 15 points on serve.
“I just feel like in the third set I’ve gotten better, starting off strong, not making too many errors, just playing aggressive and trying to dictate. I feel like I’ve really improved on that, because usually I kind of start off a little bit slow or just start making some easy mistakes and the points go fast,” Kenin said in her press conference.
Four of Kenin’s five matches this event have gone the distance. Her upcoming match against Kvitova will be her first encounter against a seeded player.
19-year-old Polish prospect Iga Swiatek remains flawless in Paris, reaching the semi-final stage of the doubles competition following a 6-3, 6-4 win with her doubles partner Nicole Melichar from the United States over American duo Asia Muhammad and Jessica Pegula.
As well as in the singles competition, Swiatek has not dropped a single set so far in the doubles competition alongside Melichar. Swiatek had only secured one doubles victory at major-level prior to this fortnight. She could become the first player since Serena Williams at Wimbledon 2016 to capture the singles and doubles major title at the same event.
Iga Swiatek in the singles competition:
Doubles alongside Nicole Melichar:
-> into the semifinals of both competitions without having dropped a single set so far.#RG20
— Alex | Tennis 🎾 (@Alex_Boroch) October 7, 2020
Next, Swiatek and Melichar will face No. 14 seeds Alexa Guarachi from Chile and American Desirae Krawczyk, who eased past Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara of Japan 6-0, 6-4 in just over an hour.