Today, at the 2021 Roland Garros, two more games of the Women’s singles’ quarter-finals took place in Paris. Amongst those playing was last year’s defending champion – Iga Swiatek. The set went on to be an unexpected one, as the Polish Player was stunned by Maria Sakkari. Swiatek got her big break in October by winning her first grand slam title in spectacular style and found herself this time as the only player in the quarter-finals previously to have gone further at any slam.
Swiatek was on a winning streak at Roland Garros of 11 matches and 22 sets, but a right thigh problem appeared to affect her as she fell to a 6-4 6-4 defeat by 17th seed Sakkari – now the highest-ranked player left in the tournament. The 25-year-old Greek, who has a British coach in Tom Hill, has been on the verge of breaking through in several slams now, but now it seems she has finally found the right recipe, beating both of last year’s finalists in successive matches. Apparently, the Greek player was fed up with tennis after the Italian Open in Rome last month that she headed to a Greek island, with Hill telling her to call him when she was ready to get back to work. Hill admitted he was a little worried but said: “I knew, one week off, she would be fine. At the end of the season, she has about four or five weeks off, and after two days of hitting she’s hitting the ball amazing again.”
Sakkari made a nervous start, with Swiatek moving into a 2-0 lead, but the Pole also looked a little tight and they were soon back on serve. Swiatek was not showing her usual clarity, hitting a lot of shots into the net, while Sakkari was beginning to dictate play with her powerful forehand. After breaking serve at 4-4, Sakkari held her nerve to serve out the set. In the second set, at 2-0 down, Swiatek to her chair to await the trainer. The 20-year-old, who has also played four doubles matches this fortnight, went off-court and returned with her right thigh strapped and, although she kept pace with her opponent from there, Sakkari did not lose grip or hesitate.
In the last four, the Greek will take on unseeded Czech Barbora Krejcikova, who ended Coco Gauff’s hopes of reaching a first grand slam semi-final with a straight-sets victory. The 17-year-old has been in brilliant form on the clay and had cruised through to her first slam quarter-final but she was unable to take any of five set points in the opening set and faded badly afterward to lose 7-6 (6) 6-3. The disappointment for Gauff was evident as she made a poor start to the second set and she was unable to recover, smashing her racket forcefully on the court after a double fault left her 4-0 behind. Krejcikova, better known as a doubles player, is now through to her first slam quarter-final in singles. We cannot wait to see what’s in store for the rest of the tournament and who will be the new champion.