Sakkari beats Swiatek to set up French Open semi-final with Krejcikova
Maria Sakkari swept past the defending champion Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-4 on Wednesday to advance to the semi-final of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
The Greek, playing in her first quarter-final, lost her opening service game. But she eventually levelled at 2-2.
She made the decisive break to lead 5-4 and fought off a break point to claim the opener after 47 minutes. It was the first time Swiatek had lost a set at the French Open since she went out in the fourth round in 2019.
Sakkari , who had never progressed past the third round at the French Open in her four previous visits, broke Swiatek's serve at the start of the second set and she kept her nerve to nurse her lead despite a 10 minute break while Swiatek received medical treatment.
A fifth unforced error on the Swiatek backhand gave Sakkari two points for a double break.
But Swiatek showed champion mettle: a seventh forehand winner eliminated one of them and a volley at the net saved the other before another forehand winner brought up game point. Another one kept Swiatek within touching distance.
But the 20-year-old Pole could not crack the Sakkari serve. And at 5-4 the 17th seed stepped up to serve for a place in the semis. A fifth ace took the 25-year-old to within two points of victory.
And an eighth forehand winner gave her three match points. Two of them went begging before a service return flew wide.
Fists clenched, she stood motionless as the centre court crowd roared their approval.
"It's a dream come true and it's a very nice feeling," said Sakkari after her 95-minute victory. "We still have a long way to go but we made a huge step today.
"I told myself this morning that it's an important match but that I should just enjoy it because this is one of the best stadiums in the world."
Sakkari will take on Barbora Krejcikova after the unseeded Czech beat the 24th seed Coco Gauff 7-6, 6-3.
Gauff squandered five set points in the opener before crumbling in the tiebreak. It was one way-traffic in the second as Krejcikova sped into a 5-0 lead before the 17-year-old rallied to make the scoreline a tad more respectable.
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