World No 131 Podoroska becomes first qualifier to make women’s French Open semis

184

Paris

Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska became the first qualifier in the Open era on Tuesday to reach the women’s semi-finals at Roland Garros after stunning third seed Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-4.
World number 131 Podoroska had never won a Grand Slam main draw match before the tournament and is the only the third female qualifier to make the last four of a major.
Podoroska, 23, will play Polish teenager Iga Swiatek or Italy’s Martina Trevisan as she attempts to become the first women’s qualifier in history to advance to the final of any of the four majors.
Alexandra Stevenson reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1999 while Christine Dorey achieved a similar run at the 1978 Australian Open.
“It’s a little bit difficult for me to speak now after the match,” said Podoroska, whose only other Grand Slam appearance came at the 2016 US Open.
“We did a very good job with my coaches during the (coronavirus) quarantine. I’ve been training a lot with all of my team I think that’s why I’m here today.
“ It was the first time Podoroska had even faced a player inside the top 20, having started the year ranked a lowly 255.
She is guaranteed 425,250 Euros ($501,740) following her breakout performance in Paris, easily doubling her total career earnings of $301,547.
Podoroska is also the first Argentine woman to reach the last four of a Slam since Paola Suarez in Paris in 2004. Gabriela Sabatini, the 1990 US Open winner, is the country’s only women’s Grand Slam singles champion.
For Svitolina, it marked a third quarter-final defeat in as many attempts at Roland Garros, having also lost at this stage in 2015 and 2017.
The Ukrainian hit just eight winners — the same number of times she dropped serve — as she slumped to her worst defeat at a major in terms of her opponent’s ranking.
“I had the opportunity but it didn’t happen, and right now it’s for sure upsetting, but in the end life continues,” said Svitolina.
“I think there was many things that let me down today.” Italian teenager Jannik Sinner has just dropped one set on his way to a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final at the French Open but will face the biggest challenge of his fledgling career when he takes on 12-times champion Rafa Nadal on Tuesday.
Sinner, the reigning ATP Next Gen Finals champion, played without fear throughout his fourth round encounter with sixth seed Alexander Zverev, firing 39 winners en route a memorable win.
The 19-year-old surpassed his own expectations to become the first man to reach the Roland Garros quarter-finals on debut since Nadal in 2005 but is not ready to rest on his laurels.
“I don’t watch that much about this kind of records or whatever,” Sinner told reporters. “At the end of the day you want to play well every match.
“It’s not the easiest thing (to play Nadal at Roland Garros), for sure. I think the record he has here, nobody can beat that. He is super confident here.”
Despite coming off a disappointing quarter-final exit in Rome, Nadal has shown no signs of slowing down in Paris as he moved into the final eight having only dropped 23 games through the first four rounds.
The Spaniard has never faced Sinner in a tour-level match but has got a taste of the Italian’s shot-making prowess during a couple of practice sessions.
“He’s young, he’s improving every single week,” said Nadal. “He has an amazing potential, he moves the hands very quickly and he’s able to produce amazing shots.”
U.S. Open winner Dominic Thiem will also be in action on Tuesday, facing Rome finalist Diego Schwartzman for a place in the semi-finals.—AP