Swiatek strolls into the quarterfinals, Nadal inches closer to Slam record
Before the French Open, Tamara Zidansek had never advanced past the second round at any Grand Slam.
The former snowboarder has now become the first woman from Slovenia to reach the semifinals at a Major tournament.
Spurred on by the vocal support of her coaching team on Court Philippe Chatrier, the 85th-ranked Zidansek defeated Spanish rival Paula Badosa 7-5, 4-6, 8-6 Tuesday at the clay-court tournament.
“It feels overwhelming,” she said.
The French Open is the only remaining Grand Slam where tiebreakers are not played in the last set. Wimbledon recently installed tiebreakers at 12-12 in the final set.
After splitting the first two sets, Badosa violently threw her racket in anger at the changeover after Zidansek held for a 6-5 lead in the third.
She regained her composure, but Zidansek then saved three break points to take a 7-6 lead and converted her second match point with a big forehand in the next game.
Zidansek’s next opponent at the clay-court event will be Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, another first-time semifinalist.
Pavlyuchenkova came out on top of an other tense battle to rally past her doubles partner Elena Rybakina 6-7 (2), 6-2, 9-7. The 31st-seeded Russian had lost at this stage 10 years ago at Roland Garros and was 0-6 in Grand Slam quarterfinals before taking to the court.
“Mentally it was really, really hard this morning,” she said. “Especially since I needed to play Elena. But this is tennis, we both wanted to win. The key was to be able to return her serve.”
Pavlyuchenkova did it well and converted six of 17 break points against her rival and friend.
Earlier on Monday, defending champion Iga Swiatek reached the quarterfinals after beating unseeded 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine 6-3, 6-4 in the fourth round.
Kostyuk saved one match point on her second serve at 30-40 as she held in the ninth game of the second set.
That forced Swiatek to serve out the match and she clinched victory with a smart lob from the net.
Swiatek has now won 22 straight sets at Roland Garros, including her run to the title last year. She next faces 17th-seeded Greek Maria Sakkari, who reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
Nadal vs Schwartzman
Rafael Nadal reached the French Open quarterfinals for the 15th time on Monday to stay on course for a 14th title and record-setting 21st Grand Slam with his biggest challenge posed by blinding stadium lights.
Third seed Nadal downed 19-year-old Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 (as briefly reported) and goes on to face 10th-seeded Diego Schwartzman of Argentina who he defeated in the semifinals last year.
Nadal hit 31 winners while the Italian claimed just 10 points in the third set.
Nadal has now won 104 matches at Roland Garros against just two defeats since his 2005 debut while Monday’s victory extended his run of consecutive sets won to 35.
“I started well but was a little too defensive. I gave him the chance to come inside the court and play his best shots. That was a mistake,” said Nadal after reaching a 44th Slam last-eight.
Baffled by the lights
Despite Monday’s match being played in bright sunshine, Nadal was baffled as to why the lights inside Court Philippe Chatrier were switched on.
“I don’t know why they put the lights on that early. We have been playing without lights here in Roland Garros for forever,” said Nadal.
“They say it’s because of TV. But my answer is we used to have TV before we had the lights on. I saw plenty of matches here, and from the TV the quality of the image was great without the lights.”
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