Thanks, Michael. It was just last year that Iga Swiatek announced herself on the global stage by winning this tournament, but that still feels like a seismic shock that Maria Sakkari has just pulled off. It will be interesting to hear Swiatek speak so we can find out a bit more the extent of her injury. Has she paid a price for a demanding run in the doubles competition, too?
As for Swiatek, a disappointing end to what seemed to be another very promising tournament. She left Chatrier with her head bowed, and we don’t know physically how she was struggling with that strapped right thigh. That’s only her second ever defeat at Roland Garros, she just couldn’t compete with Sakkari today, who is a real dark horse for the title this year.
I’m speechless! My gameplan? I’m not going to tell, as we will play again for sure. I spoke to myself. It’s a very important match, but just enjoy it. This is one of the best stadiums in the world so I have to enjoy it.
She also is invited to speak in her native Greek, but I’m afraid I haven’t the foggiest what she said. With her compatriot Stefanos Tsitsipas due to play in the men’s semi-final on Friday against Alexander Zverev, what a tournament this is for Greek tennis.
Sakkari wins 6-4, 6-4! Swiatek, the defending champion, is out!
Absolutely magnificent from Sakkari. She plays a deft drop shot to leave Swiatek stranded in the first point, aces her opponent in her second and hits a cross-court winner to bring her three match points. The crowd rise to cheer, but Sakkari looks eager to get on with it. Fair play to Swiatek, though, who twice hits fierce return winners to save two match points, but the Pole can only bunt the third return into the tramlines. Sakkari wins, and sinks to her knees in celebration! Wow!
Second set: Sakkari* 6-4, 5-4 Swiatek (*denotes next server) It doesn’t look like Swiatek is struggling physically, but she’s certainly not hitting her shots. Sakkari slightly let’s her off the hook in this game with some unusually sloppy shots, but the 25-year-old seems happy to save her energy for the next decisive service game.
Second set: Sakkari 6-4, 5-3 Swiatek* (*denotes next server) This is brilliant, clean hitting from Sakkari. Swiatek has no answer to the first serves, which vary in pace and direction, the last of which closes out the game with an ace. Swiatek is serving to stay in the match.
Second set: Sakkari* 6-4, 4-3 Swiatek (*denotes next server) Swiatek goes to 40-15 before Sakkari rips a venomous cross-court forehand. The Pole is lucky with a couple of breaks off the net, and just about holds her serve, although it is more down to Sakkari missing her shots than Swiatek making her’s. Two more games for a semi-final at Roland Garros, and you wouldn’t bet against Sakkari, she’s won 80% of her first serves.
Second set: Sakkari 6-4, 4-2 Swiatek* (*denotes next server) Absolutely ruthless serving from Sakkari. Two aces to hold her serve and indeed her nerve. Let’s not underestimate how difficult it was to come through her opponent’s medical timeout with the same winning mentality.
Second set: Sakkari* 6-4, 3-2 Swiatek (*denotes next server) Swiatek is once again under pressure, two break points down. But she hits a clean winner, and sarcastically throws her arms up into the air as if to say to the crowd: “Wayyyyy, I actually won one!” However demonstrative that gesture might be, it seems to have given Swiatek a bit of confidence and she cruises to a service hold with a series of brilliant winners. We’re not at last-chance saloon but she’s going for her shots, which is more than she was doing at the start of the set.
Second set: Sakkari 6-4, 3-1 Swiatek* (*denotes next server) Sakkari finds her rhythm once more with the one-two punch of drop shots and devastating, deep groundstrokes. From her in-game grunts to the celebratory cheers, Sakkari is certainly a lot more vocal on court, with constant glances to her encouraging corner. Perhaps she is winning the mental battle as well as the physical one. The Greek goes 3-1 up.
Second set: Sakkari* 6-4, 2-1 Swiatek (*denotes next server) Swiatek is certainly moving OK, and after going to 40-15, she hits a wonderful forehand down the line – a shot she has been struggling with all day – that finds the corner. Nobody would accuse Swiatek of gamesmanship, but Sakkari must be quietly fuming at the momentum change. She was flying before her opponent’s medical timeout.
Sakkari is now pacing around the baseline, restless. Swiatek has three minutes to resolve whatever her physical issue is. The defending comes back on court to lukewarm applause from the 5,000-strong crowd. Swiatek has some strapping on her right thigh. That’s nearly 10 minutes without any tennis. Let’s hope the Pole is OK to continue.
Sakkari doesn’t look best pleased, as she sits in her seat, waiting for Swiatek, who has had to actually leave Chatrier for a medical timeout. The trainer was looking at the top of her thigh, perhaps something to do with Swiatek’s hip? There certainly seems to be a bit of stiffness in her twisting, which is obviously important to just about any tennis shot.
Second set: Sakkari 6-4, 2-0 Swiatek* (*denotes next server) An easy hold for Sakkari, who is continuing to dominate. That’s five games on the bounce, after being 4-3 down in the first set. Perhaps that wasn’t a comfort break for Swiatek between the two sets, as she is calling on the trainer/doctor. What is the isssue here? It’s unclear, but whatever it is, it stops the momentum of the match irreversibly into Sakkari’s favour, albeit briefly.
Second set: Sakkari* 6-4, 1-0 Swiatek (*denotes next server) Swiatek briefly left the court in the break, presumably to pop to the loo, but also to try and get her head around what just happened there. After a quick start, it’s been all Sakkari. And so it proves here in the second set. The comfort break does Swiatek no good as her forehand completely abandons her. Sakkari breaks once more – the Greek’s defence is ferocious, she covers the back of the court so quickly and Swiatek is left reaching for shots that she has no chance of making at present.
Sakkari takes the first set 6-4!
Finally, Swiatek wakes from her slumber, punishing a sloppy second serve with a cross-court forehand that felt like it was hit with a lot of anger. But Sakkari responds with her own blows, seeing a set point saved by Swiatek before the Greek save a break point with a frankly ridiculous second serve, which bounces so high and wide that even prime Andy Murray would have a job getting to it. Back to deuce then, but before a flurry of Sakkari groundstrokes slowly wears Swiatek down. The first set belongs to the underdog! The defending champion has a real job on her hands, here!
First set: Sakkari* 5-4 Swiatek (*denotes next server) You have to say that Sakkari is looking the more lilely to win this set – fistbumps a plenty as she defends stoutly from the back of the court and takes her chances to hit clean winners when she can. Two break points for the Greek, then, and Swiatek skews one well right to give Sakkari the break! Sakkari will serve for the first set!
First set: Sakkari 4-4 Swiatek* (*denotes next server) Sakkari has such a unique serve, particularly her second serve. Her toss is so far behind her sometimes that he appears to be at a right angle. The result is serve that, although slow-ish, kicks viciously off the clay. SO MUCH SPIN. It’s too much for Swiatek, who cedes the game to love.
First set: Sakkari* 3-4 Swiatek (*denotes next server) A brief pause with some small amount of alarm in the crowd. Has somebody fainted? It’s unclear but there is a small crowd of people congregated around somebody high up in the stands. The players wait, but it doesn’t seem a serious issue, whatever it is. Swiatek uses the pause to reset and serves to love. It’s not her best stuff, but she leads the first set. One of the best things about her game is how she rushes her opponents into shots, and that’s exactly what happens here: Sakkari hitting into the net and then long.
First set: Sakkari 3-3 Swiatek* (*denotes next server) Sakkari is definitely winning the battle of the body language, bobbing up and down on the baseline between points, while Swiatek has a perma-grimace written all over her face. You feel like Swiatek has a couple of gears to go up yet, with Sakkari dominated the rallies, pinning Swiatek back with ground strokes before a lovely drop shot leaves the Pole stranded at the back of the court. A good hold for Sakkari.
First set: Sakkari* 2-3 Swiatek (*denotes next server) The first audible grunts float across the airwaves from Sakkari as she feels her way into this match. Swiatek, still silent, misses a forehand down the line – she struggled with that shot in the previous round against Marta Kostyuk – before a double fault hands two break points to Sakkari. Swiatek battles back to deuce. A ridiculous cross-court winner from Sakkari is cancelled out by a Swiatek first serve down the middle, before the Pole tempts her opponent in with a drop shot and then fires a fierce winner past Sakkari to close out the game.
First set: Sakkari 2-2 Swiatek* (*denotes next server) Two break points down and Sakkari pulls out two pearling serves to force deuce. Sakkari has never been this far before at the French Open, and has also beaten her mother, Angeliki Kanellopoulou, in that regard, who reached the third round at Roland Garros in 1985 and 1987. Both players exchange clean winners on consecutive points, before Sakkari saves break point with a 112mph serve down the middle. It’s the second serve where the Greek is struggling, winning just 13% of her points, but she again serves a fast, first one down the T to secure a crucial hold after facing four break points.
First set: Sakkari* 1-2 Swiatek (*denotes next server) Sakkari breaks straight back! Have to say that it’s been a poor start to the match, quality wise. Both are missing their mark, rather than hitting clean winners. Swiatek is normally so consistent, last year she became the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to win Roland Garros without dropping a set.
First set: Sakkari 0-2 Swiatek* (*denotes next server) Sakkari looks really nervous and can’t seem to string together any sort of rally. Swiatek, in contrast, looks set. She looks so comfortable on clay and doesn’t mind coming to the net. It’s an easy break for the defending champion.
First set: Sakkari* 0-1 Swiatek (*denotes next server) A few looseners in that first game, especially from Sakkari, who shunted a couple long and wide. In the end, an easy hold for the defending champion.
These two are good mates and trained together prior to this tournament. Swiatek also hit with Nadal before Roland Garros, which can’t of harmed. Sakkari should not be underestimated though, she’s a powerful player that doesn’t mind going for her shots.
There are 5,000 people inside Chatrier today, and 13,000 throughout the grounds. Sakkari elects to receive, so Swiatek will serve first. It’s around 27 degs on court in Paris, beautiful conditions, just as it is outside my London flat right now.
Nobody has lost fewer games than Iga Swiatek going into this match, The defending champion remains the only grand slam winner left in the women’s singles draw. The eight seed is surely the favourite against Maria Sakkari, despite being just 20 years old. Let’s recap on last year’s triumph.
Next up on Chatrier: Maria Sakkari v Iga Swiatek.
A reminder of what else we’ve got for you today later on in the men’s singles quarter-finals:
- Diego Schwartzman v Rafael Nadal
- Novak Djokovic v Matteo Berrettini
Krejcikova wins the second set and match 7-6 (6), 6-3!
Krejcikova deserves this. She looked shaky at the start, came through some break points in the first set when all looked lost, and has had the quality to despatch Gauff when she has been on top. Ranked 33 in the world, she looked every inch a top 10 player here, and definitely capable of winning her first grand slam title.
Nerves of steel in the last game of the match. She started to go for her shots again, rather than let Gauff dictate the rallies as she has done the last three matches, and goes to 40-0 up. Three more match points down, Gauff can only hit wide and Krejcikova throws her hands in the air. Her face is more surprised than jubilant, but what a moment for the 25-year-old! Her first grand slam semi-final. A year ago, she was outside the top 100!
Second set: Gauff 6-7 (6), 3-5 Krejcikova* (*denotes next server) Gauff goes to a 30-0 lead but Krejcikova pegs her back before edging a rally to take her to her fourth match point! Second serve, and Gauff bunts one up the T! The guts on this teenager! For all her poorness in this second set, the American can be clutch. A fifth match point for Krejcikova comes and goes, before Gauff closes out the game. Wow! Gauff is motoring! Can Krejcikova hold her nerve?
Second set: Gauff* 6-7 (6), 2-5 Krejcikova (*denotes next server) A wonderful Krejcikova backhand down the line sets up three match points, but Gauff somehow makes it back to deuce! A mixture of Krejcikova choking on some easy baseline shots and Gauff’s gutsy plays. At 40-30 up, with Gauff stranded out wide, Krejcikova had the whole court to aim for to win the match, but she hits wide into the tramlines! And Gauff comes back to break! She couldn’t? Could she?
Second set: Gauff 6-7 (6), 1-5 Krejcikova* (*denotes next server) Up until that double fault, I’m not sure how many consecutive points Krejcikova won but I would guess around a dozen. Gauff can’t win a grand slam quarter final with those numbers. A brief hiatus at 5-0 down, as Gauff briefly gathers herself – despite a couple of bad errors, including one errant volley that she shoved well long of the baseline, she aces out wide to hold her serve, and secure her first game of the second set. But Krejcikova will serve for the match.
Second set: Gauff* 6-7 (6), 0-5 Krejcikova (*denotes next server) Gauff can’t a single shot in. Krejcikova races to another 40-0 lead on serve, and it is only a double fault that stops yet another hold of serve to love. Gauff is surely beaten, and Krejcikova is one game away from a semi-final at Roland Garros!
Second set: Gauff 6-7 (6), 0-4 Krejcikova* (*denotes next server) The crowd try their best to get Gauff going, but the American looks on the verge of tears as she hits a double fault into the net at 0-40 down on her own serve. Her racket gets a good smashing, three separate blows on the clay leave it twisted and broken. A warning from the umpire, complete head loss from Gauff. This is easy for Krejcikova.
Second set: Gauff* 6-7 (6), 0-3 Krejcikova (*denotes next server) The sound of an ambulance can be heard careering down some Parisian street outside Chatrier, and one can’t help feeling that it might be for Gauff, who is playing herself out of the tournament here. Krejcikova is doing nothing special, simply bunting it back the other end, as Gauff hits long and wide, time after time. A hold to love.
Second set: Gauff 6-7 (6), 0-2 Krejcikova* (*denotes next server) Gauff is slightly wavering here. Her decision making has deteriorated, and Krejcikova is quite happy to stay in the rally with big looping shots that come down with snow on to land on Gauff’s baseline and the American is unable to use her power effectively. Clever, clever tennis from Krejcikova, who only needs one break point to race to a 2-0 lead in the second set!
Second set: Gauff* 6-7 (6), 0-1 Krejcikova (*denotes next server) I still have no idea who is going to win this match. The quality of tennis in that first set ranged from top drawer to mediocre, particularly the serving. Again this looks like Krejcikova’s weakness as Gauff threatens with another break point. But Gauff looks a little too eager to capitalise on Krejcikova’s serving and she hits a return into a net before Krejcikova holds.
Krejcikova wins the first set 7-6 (6)!
An early mini-break for Krejcikova but she hands back the advantage with a double fault, her sixth of the set. But now Gauff does the same, her fifth double fault of the match so far. It looks very hot now on Chatrier, and I wonder if the sun is blinding the pair as they serve? Krejcikova looks set to go to a 4-2 lead in the tie-break but bins an easy shot into the net, and complains to the umpire about a call from the crowd that put her off. Will that throw the Czech off? Things aren’t helped as Gauff clips one off the net to go 5-4 up and then hits an unforced error barely half-way up the net. Two set points for Gauff! Krejcikova responds, just as she has all set, two clean forehand winner just when she needed it! We’re back to 6-6 in the tiebreak! What cajones from Krejcikova, who now forces her own set point … and she gets it with a serve out wide and forehand winner! I’m not quite sure how, but the Czech player is halfway to her first ever grand slam semi-final!
First set: Gauff* 6-6 Krejcikova (*denotes next server) Gauff races to 0-30, showing a bit of patience in the rally that has been missing this set. She is often so desperate to play the Hollywood winner, which is so often is capable of hitting, but forgets to play the percentages, which of courses makes for much more entertaining tennis. Krejcikova is having issues with her ball toss, but battles back to 30-30. This feels like a microcosm of the first set. Gauff gets to set point, and despite two more ball tosses that nearly end up next to the corporate seats, Krejcikova somehow gets back to deuce. Again, Gauff gets to break point with a outrageous winner on the run, before Krejcikova saves her set with her first backhand winner of the match, landing just inside the line. What a time to pull that one out! Gauff is the one to crumble now, with two unforced errors, and Krejcikova somehow holds! To a tie-break we go!
First set: Gauff 6-5 Krejcikova* (*denotes next server) Spectacular from both players, but Gauff in particular. The American gets to a drop volley, hits a clean winner with two feet fully off the ground, and then somehow scrambles to hit a sublime forehand up the line. At 40-15, she serves out the game. Absolutely ridiculous. Gauff is absolutely ridiculous. Krejcikova was powerless there but it remains on serve.
First set: Gauff* 5-5 Krejcikova (*denotes next server) As simple a hold as you are ever likely to see from Krejcikova, who even threw in a slice (!!!) to change up the pace and unnerve Gauff.
First set: Gauff 5-4 Krejcikova* (*denotes next server) Gauff’s first ace takes her to 30-15, before another takes her to set point at 40-30. A huge scream from the American carries around Chatrier. She is FIRED UP! But then! A wayward Gauff backhand and a double fault hands break point to Krejcikova, before Gauff bins a simple shot into the net. We’re back on serve! Really difficult to predict where this set and match is going to go. Both players are hitting aces, winners and double faults, looking equally sublime and ridiculous in the process.
First set: Gauff* 5-3 Krejcikova (*denotes next server) Krejcikova beginning to win a few cheap point on her serve – she wants to keep the rallies short if she can, as Gauff’s mobility around the court is far superior. Gauff isn’t playing her best but gets to break point, and bullies her way past the Czech with a ripping crosscourt forehand. Gauff will serve for the first set!
First set: Gauff 4-3 Krejcikova* (*denotes next server) It’s only when the camera focuses on Gauff’s face that we remember how young she is. She’s got to show a little bit of maturity here, having lost the last three games. Three double faults in the game don’t help her here in this game, and a couple of errant ball tosses maybe betray her own nerves. But a clever serve out wide sends Krejcikova nearly hurtling into the stands and Gauff holds to break the run of games in her favour. We’re on serve.
First set: Gauff* 3-3 Krejcikova (*denotes next server) A break point down, Krejcikova fires her first ace up the T to relieve some pressure before a second ace sets up game point. Krejcikova hits a heavy ball out wide, Gauff cannot retrieve and suddenly we’re all square!
First set: Gauff 3-2* Krejcikova (*denotes next server) OK, OK, looks like we’ve got ourselves a ball game. Again, Gauff shows signs of her power and accuracy in some points, but Krejcikova is growing into this match. Her baseline shots are getting deeper and fiercer and she’s looking like she’s enjoying herself now. Gauff hits long and we’re a break each at 3-2!
First set: Gauff* 3-1 Krejcikova (*denotes next server) Krejcikova gets on the board with her first game and cracks her first smile of the day. It looks like the weight of the world has lifted off of her shoulders now that she knows that she won’t be bagelled. A real battling hold that, because in between a few sloppy errors, Gauff put on an exhibition of fabulous shots, from backhand winners to a deft drop volley at the net, to a wonderful scrambling defence to cover the baseline.
Welcome to Wednesday’s French Open liveblog. Coco Gauff kicks things off on Philippe-Chatrier against Barbora Krejcikova. At 17, she is the youngest grand slam quarter-finalist for 15 years, but you can’t help feeling that this is just another tiny milestone in what will surely be a remarkable career.
Both players will be nervous, though. The unseeded Krejcikova beat Sloane Stephens to reach this stage but admitted afterwards that she nearly didn’t take the court in the fourth-round due to nerves. She is traditionally a doubles player, but this is the first time she has reached the last eight of a grand slam.
“You know, half an hour before the match, I didn’t even want to step on the court, because I just felt really bad, and I had to lock myself in the physio room and I had to talk to my psychologist. I was actually crying. We talked about it a lot, and she told me, ‘If you can overcome this, what you feel right now, it’s going to be a huge win, and it doesn’t matter if you’re going to win on the court or lose on the court, because it’s going to be a personal win’.” I think after the first point things got a little bit better, a little bit easier. Then I broke her. I just felt like yeah, you know, I can play, I can actually play her. So I think I was just more stressed that I’m just not going to be good enough. I think that’s what happened.”
We join the match with Gauff an break up at 3-0 in the first set. After a double fault on the first point of the match, Gauff has certainly come out of the traps with more authority. Perhaps with the above comments, that is not surprising. But perhaps Krejcikova will take her time to grow into the match.
Wednesday’s order of play
- Coco Gauff v Barbora Krejcíkova
- Maria Sakkari v Iga Swiatek
- Diego Schwartzman v Rafael Nadal
- Novak Djokovic v Matteo Berrettini