French Open: Maria Sakkari ends Iga Swiatek’s run

The Greek takes on unseeded Barbora Krejcikova in the semifinal

By   |  Published: 9th Jun 2021  8:53 pm
Greece's Maria Sakkari upsets defending champion Poland's Iga Swiatek on Wednesday.

Paris: Maria Sakkari ended defending champion Iga Swiatek’s 11-match and 22-set winning streaks at the French Open on Wednesday and reached the semifinals of a major tournament for the first time.

The 17th-seeded Sakkari used 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.

“I couldn’t have done it without my team and their support and I just want to thank them and we still have a long way to go, of course,” Sakkari said, “but we made a huge step today.”

All four women remaining in the field are making their Slam semifinal debuts.

On Thursday, Sakkari plays unseeded Barbora Krejcikova, and No. 31 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova faces unseeded Tamara Zidansek.

Krejcikova advanced earlier 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.

And both dealt with early deficits Wednesday.

Swiatek, a 20-year-old from Poland who has looked untouchable on clay, jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but then Sakkari took over, collecting eight of 10 games. When Sakkari smacked a backhand winner down the line to close a 15-stroke point that claimed that set, she leaned over and punched the air with her right fist.

That ended Swiatek’s set streak at Roland Garros, which dated to the beginning of last year’s tournament, when she dropped only 28 games in all. She’d only lost 20 games this year through four matches.

Tsitsipas ousts Medvedev

On Tuesday, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev both have been viewed as potential future stars of tennis. Both have come close to Grand Slam titles.

Now the pair of 20-somethings will meet each other for a berth in the French Open final after straight-set quarterfinal victories Tuesday. It will be the youngest matchup in the men’s semifinals at Roland Garros since a couple of guys named Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic met in 2008.

The No. 5-seeded Tsitsipas reached his fourth major semifinal — and third in a row — by upending No. 2 Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 7-6 (3), 7-5 at Court Philippe Chatrier in the last no-spectator night session of this year’s tournament.

“I feel privileged that I’m in that position, and I feel obviously I’ve put in a lot of daily hard work (that) has been a key element of me being here,” Tsitsipas said.

“But, you know, my ego tells me I want more.”

He escaped two set points held by two-time Slam runner-up Medvedev at 5-4 in the second, but otherwise required only slightly more work than was demanded of 2020 U.S. Open finalist Zverev in his 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 victory over 46th-ranked Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.


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