We’re down to the final four in Paris after Tuesday and Wednesday’s quarter-finals. Tuesday produced another huge upset, while Wednesday’s quarters went more with form book. I’ve loved this tournament but i’m feeling some Slam fatigue as we head into the final few days! This post features reviews of all four quarter-finals and a preview of the semi-finals which will start at 3pm local time in Paris on Thursday.
Podoroska’s fairytale run continues, shocks Svitolina in straights
In Monday’s post where I previewed Svitolina-Podoroska, I wrote… I’ll be shocked if Svitolina doesn’t win this 😂😂😂. And I’m still in shock because Nadia Podoroska, who had never won a main draw match at a Slam before this tournament, is into her first Slam semi-final with an inspired display to beat Elina Svitolina, 6-2 6-4.
Watching back the match, I was trying to decide what happened – did Podoroska peak or Svitolina blow it? As is the case with most matches, I thought it was a bit of both. Podoroska obviously played a great match. Her heavy forehand was lethal and she used it to open up the court and get Svitolina on the run. The most impressive aspect of Podoroska’s game was how positive and brave she was in the crux moments.
Svitolina started very positively and had a game point for a 2-0 lead. After getting broken back, Svitolina became passive and was really struggling to hit through the court with so many of her shots landing short, allowing Podoroska to dictate. Svitolina generally seemed to run out of ideas as Podoroska was comfortably staying in the rallies. Svitolina held serve just once all match. A stark contrast to her previous match against Garcia where the serve was her biggest asset.
It’s the kind of result that makes me question whether Svitolina has what it takes to win a Slam. I hope she proves me wrong, but this was a crusher for Svitolina. All the credit to Podoroska who went after it and was fully deserving of the win. Podoroska continues her fairytale run as the first qualifier to reach the semi-finals of Roland Garros in the Open Era!
20 games dropped in 5 matches, Swiatek sails into the semi-finals
On Sunday, Iga Swiatek went into her fourth round match as the underdog against the number one seed, Simona Halep. Two days later, Swiatek was the heavy favourite in her first Slam quarter-final. Overcoming a bit of a nervy start, Swiatek’s quality shone through as she won 11 of the last 12 games to beat fellow Slam quarter-final newbie, Martina Trevisan, 6-1 6-3.
Swiatek looked tight at the start as Trevisan came racing out of the blocks. The Italian started very aggressively and was loving it out there in the biggest match of her career. Swiatek found herself down *1-3 *15-30 in the first set. The Polish player landed a pair of big serves out wide to hold. From there on, Swiatek began to settle. In her match against Halep, it was all about the forehand. Against Trevisan, it was the backhand, notably going down-the-line, that excelled.
I thought Swiatek acquitted herself very well in a tricky situation. This performance wasn’t as clean or flashy as her win over Halep (although that will be tough to match for the rest of her career!) but as she said in her post-match interview on Eurosport, she played smart. I loved Trevisan’s attitude and she’s a real live wire. It was a one-sided scoreline, yet a thoroughly entertaining matchh.
Swiatek has dropped 20 games in five matches – remarkable!
Kvitova yet to drop a set, downs the Siege in straights
Petra Kvitova is back in the semi-finals of Roland Garros for the first time since 2012 and she has yet to drop a set! Kvitova delivered another aggressive display to end Laura Siegemund’s impressive run with a 6-3 6-3 victory. Siegemund is a dangerous customer on clay. Thankfully for Kvitova, she served well, winning 77% of points behind her first serve and 52% of points behind her second serve. A few double faults creeped into her game as she was broken in consecutive service games midway through the second set. Kvitova stayed aggressive on return to break Siegemund straight back on both occasions.
The most pleasing aspect of Kvitova’s game was her net play as she won nine out of 14 points at the net. I’ve said it a few times on the blog that I think Kvitova’s volleys are underrated. Siegemund had a great tournament and it felt fitting she had this run at the French having been cruelly sidelined in 2017 when she had been in the form of her life. Siegemund pulled the MTO gamesmanship card again today after getting broke at 2-2 in the second set. I know she’s not doing anything wrong in the rules but it just leaves a bitter taste in the mouth because she does it all the bloody time 😂. I’m just glad Kvitova wasn’t fazed by it and managed to close out the match in convincing fashion.
Go win it all, Petra 😘.
2020’s star turn at the Slams, Sofia Kenin
In the closest of the quarter-finals and the only one to go the distance, Sofia Kenin recorded a first ever win over Danielle Collins, 6-4 4-6 6-0. Kenin had never won a set against Collins in three previous meetings. This was Kenin’s fourth three set match of the tournament and she has now cemented her position as the most successful player at the slams in 2020.
Collins is the kind of player who thrives off rhythm. Kenin did a great job at not allowing Collins to play her game as she consistently played different shots, moved the ball around the court and subtlety and effectively mixed in variety. Collins was flat in the opener, perhaps not surprisingly having had no rest day after her three set fourth round win over Ons Jabeur which was pushed back to Tuesday because of the rain.
Collins came roaring back, literally (some of those come ons omg), rallying from a break down to win the second set as she seized on a few errors from Kenin and feasted on second serves. This match was bubbling up nicely and the end to the second set was decent. However, the third set was unfortunately a damp squib. Collins was clearly struggling with an injury and her serve fell apart. It can be tough when a player sees their opponent injured. Not for Kenin who was utterly ruthless and dropped just nine points in the decider. Yet another resilient display from Kenin who has finished her last three matches with bagel/breadstick sets.
Day 11 watchlist 📺
Iga Swiatek vs. Nadia Podoroska: Hands up who had this as a semi-final at the start of the tournament?! A first career meeting and a first Slam semi-final on the line for both players. What I wrote about Swiatek for the quarters kind of applies for the semis. She’s the heavy favourite. I’m definitely sitting up and paying Podoroska more attention and respect than I did for the quarters. I’m still going for Swiatek though because she’s been in devastating form, both in singles and doubles, and because of the way she managed to compose herself and play smart in the quarter-finals.
Petra Kvitova vs. Sofia Kenin: This is a decent sounding semi-final and wouldn’t have looked out of place at the start of the tournament. A very intriguing match-up between two Slam champs both seeking a first final at Roland Garros. Kvitova leads the head-to-head, 2-0, and won their most recent meeting on the fast clay courts of Madrid, 6-1 6-4.
This is a 50-50 match IMO. One thing going in Kenin’s favour is that she’s battle tested and really been forced to fight and play some quality tennis to get out of trouble. Kvitova’s played a fantastic tournament but she hasn’t been tested yet and i’ve still got that Rogers match in my head. Of course that won’t matter if Kvitova just goes out there and rains down aces and plays aggressively like she has all week. It’s a head says Kenin, heart says Kvitova situation for me. I am rooting Petra all the way because it would just be such a special moment 🤞.