There will be a new winner at Roland Garros by the end of the week after defending champion Iga Swiatek was upset by Greek star Maria Sakkari on Wednesday.
World No. 8 Swiatek was the only top-ten player left in the women’s draw, before her 11-match winning streak at the French Open was broken by the 25-year-old from Athens.
Sakkari had never progressed past the fourth round of a major until this week and wasn’t afraid of the big stage in Paris, progressing 6-4, 6-4 in less than 100 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
The 17th seed is arguably the form player left in the women’s draw after claiming victories of 14th seed Elise Mertens and 4th seed Sofia Kenin on her way to eliminating Swiatek in one of the shock results of the tournament.
With world No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas also in the semi-finals against Germany’s Alexander Zverev, it is a special time right now for Greek tennis.
“I don't want to get too excited because I don't have a day off tomorrow. I still have to play, stay focused. But it's a big achievement, for sure,” Sakkari told reporters after the significant win.
“I'm enjoying, as I said on court, my tennis and myself. I have people around me telling it was going to come. You know, they were right. Maybe I was the one who was telling them, I was impatient, telling them, ‘When and when and when?’ It actually came this week, so I'm happy about it.”
Sakkari has one of the most intimidating physiques in women’s tennis and is renowned for her professionalism, which is paying dividends right now in France.
“I do a lot of track and field training. I run a lot. I lift a lot. A bit of everything, I would say. But, you know, I've been working with my fitness coach since I was 14. I think he has done a very, very good job with me,” she said.
“It's actually one thing I really like to do. I actually like to spend time in the gym. I'm really enjoying it. I guess it's good for tennis as well.”
Sakkari will now face the Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova – who is also into her first semi-final at a major – in the second match on women’s semi-final Thursday.
“I think, of course, it's going to be very tough, but I'm confident that my coaches will give me the right game plan. So far I have been executing whatever they said really well. I trust myself and I trust their game plan. I think it's going to work out well,” she added.
Russian 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will meet unseeded Slovenian Tamara Zidansek in the other semi-final on day twelve.
Pavlyuchenkova has been claimed a bounty of scalps at Roland Garros, eliminating Belarussian stars Victoria Azarenka and Aryna Sabalenka and 21st seed Elena Rybankina.
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