Defending champion of the French Open Iga Swiatek is knocked out in the quarterfinals as Maria Sakkari claims a shocking victory to reach the last four… meaning the 17th series is now the highest ranked female player in the tournament!
- Iga Swiatek suffered a shocking defeat to 17th seed Maria Sakkari
- Defending champion of the French Open lost 6-4, 6-4 when she crashed in the quarter-finals
- Sakkari is now the highest ranked female player of the tournament
- Watch the French Open live on Eurosport and the Eurosport app
An unknown cast of French Open women’s semi-finalists is led by Maria Sakkari, a former tennis court player in Greece who employs a young British coach.
For the first time in modern history, Roland Garros has a final four made up entirely of the first semi-finalists of a Grand Slam.
While the men’s semifinals will feature household names, the opposite is true after what, even by the standards of the women’s unpredictability, is an event that didn’t go as expected.
Defending French Open champion Iga Swiatek crashed in the quarterfinals
Sakkari – who teams up with Tom Hill, a 26-year-old coach from Birmingham – stunned Polish defending champion Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-4 to knock out the last of the favourites.
Remarkably, Greece, which has long been immune to the global spread of tennis, now has two semi-finalists in Paris, with the more established Stefanos Tsitsipas the other.
With a placement of 17, Sakkari is the highest ranked player left and the fringe favorite to take home the trophy. She kept her focus as Swiatek took an injury time out at 0-2 in the second set to have her thigh examined, possibly paying the price for also making the semi-finals of the doubles.
Maria Sakkari claimed a shocking straight-set win to reach the last four of the French Open
The 25-year-old from Athens is a strong athlete whose mother, Angeliki Kanellopoulou, was one of the few Greek players to achieve much in the game, briefly reaching the top 50 in the mid-1990s.
Sakkari was asked to reflect on the sudden interest in tennis in Greece, where football and basketball predominate.
“Well, now it’s certain that it exists,” she said. ‘I am very close to Stefanos. We’ve known each other from a very young age. I see him here every day. We eat dinner with our teams side by side every night.’
She now faces the Czech Republic’s unseeded Barbora Krejcikova, once a protege of the late Jana Novotna. Krejcikova, also still alive in doubles, ended 17-year-old Coco Gauff’s run 7-6, 6-3. The American dropped to 0-5 after missing five set points in a nerve-wracking opener in which both players were desperately tense.
The 17th seed fought back from a nervous start to set up a semi-final with Barbora Krejcikova
“After the game, Enzo (Wallart), my hitting partner, told me that this game will probably make me a champion in the future. I really believe that,” said the shattered American.
In Thursday’s other semifinal, the world’s number 32, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, will face Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek, who is 53 places below her.
There are no such problems in the men’s, where 13-time champion Rafael Nadal worked his way into two wins after the win
his annual performance. There is a hint of vulnerability about Nadal, who was pushed hard by Diego Schwartzmann before taking off with their quarterfinals 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0.
Swiatek appeared to be struggling with a thigh problem and received treatment during a time-out
He looked tired at times in stormy conditions and saw his run of 36 victorious sets at Roland Garros falter. It was the same player who broke his run of 38 winning sets in Paris that ended in 2018.
Before Nadal broke through towards the end of the third set, it was noteworthy that Schwartzmann often got the better of the longer rallies, even though the petite South American is a machine-like baseliner.
If Nadal finally faced Novak Djokovic, it would be their 58th career meeting, with the Serb leading the run 29-28 – although he hasn’t beaten the Spaniard on clay in five years.
The result means Sakkari is the highest seed remaining in the event in 17th seeding game