History beckons for the last four

History beckons for the last four

PARIS • Argentinian Nadia Podoroska was at a loss for words after becoming the first qualifier to reach the French Open semi-finals in the women’s singles draw when she beat Ukrainian third seed Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-4 yesterday.

The world No. 131 emulates Belgium’s Filip Dewulf, the only qualifier in either of the singles draws since tennis turned professional in 1968, to make it to the last four at Roland Garros in 1997.

“It’s a little bit difficult for me to speak after the match, thank you everybody for your support, I’m very, very happy,” the 23-year-old, whose only other Major appearance came at the 2016 US Open, said on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“We did a very good job with my coaches during quarantine. I’ve been training a lot with my team, I think that’s why I’m here today.”

She had never won a Grand Slam main draw match before the tournament and is the first Argentinian woman to reach the last four of a Major since Paola Suarez in Paris in 2004.

She is guaranteed €425,250 (S$681,400) following her breakout performance, more than her total career earnings of US$301,547 (S$410,000).

It was the first time she had even faced a player inside the top 20, having started the year ranked 255th.

She next faces either Polish teenager Iga Swiatek or another qualifier, Italian Martina Trevisan, with all three enjoying career-best runs at a Slam.

World No. 5 Svitolina, one of the tournament favourites after winning in Strasbourg last month, suffered a third quarter-final defeat in as many attempts at Roland Garros, having also lost in 2015 and 2017.

The Ukrainian was on the back foot throughout, hitting just eight winners – the same number of times she dropped serve – and fell to her worst defeat at a Slam in relation to her opponent’s ranking.

“In the end, I wasn’t 100 per cent mentally on it today, and that was really disappointing. I was too focused on the negative things, what wasn’t going right,” said Svitolina.

“I had the opportunity but it didn’t happen, and right now, it’s for sure upsetting, but in the end, life continues.”

In an earlier match, unseeded Danielle Collins battled past Tunisian Ons Jabeur 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals for the first time in her career.

She will face Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin next, after the fourth-seeded American recovered to beat Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 in their last-16 tie on Monday.

Also on Monday, Novak Djokovic racked up his 35th win of the year and a place in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros for the 14th time with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 win over Russia’s Karen Khachanov.

The world No. 1 will face Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta today for a place in the semi-finals.

Separately, French prosecutors said yesterday they have opened an investigation last Thursday into alleged match-fixing in a women’s doubles tie. The probe concerns the first-round match on Sept 30 between Romanian pair Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig, and Yana Sizikova of Russia with American Madison Brengle, according to French sports daily L’Equipe and German newspaper Die Welt.

The fifth game of the second set – won by love by Mitu and Tig after Sizikova served two double faults – has come under the microscope.

L’Equipe said large sums of money were bet on the Romanians winning the game, with bets placed in several countries through Paris-based gambling outlets. Prosecutors are looking into alleged “fraud in an organised group” and “active and passive corruption in sport”.

When asked about the case, the French Open organisers referred Reuters to the Tennis Integrity Unit, who declined to comment.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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