When one final forehand from defending winner Iga Swiatek landed wide in the French Open quarterfinals, Maria Sakkari crouched on Court Philippe Chatrier and bowed her head, relishing the moment.
Sakkari is still just two wins away from lifting the trophy, but Wednesday’s victory means she’s already in new land — like the other few women left at the draw.
Sakkari stopped Swiatek’s 11-match and 22-set winning streaks at Roland Garros by beating 6-4, 6-4 Wednesday to ensure that there’ll be a first-time Grand Slam winner once the tournament ends.
All four are making their Slam semifinal debuts.
“We’re four really good players,” Sakkari said. “players who could win a name, for sure.”
Krejcikova advanced Wednesday by removing 17-year-old Coco Gauff 7-6 (6), 6-3.
This is just the second time at the professional era that there has been four first-time semifinalists in any significant championship, according to the WTA. Additionally, it occurred at the 1978 Australian Open.
From the men’s quarterfinals, 13-time winner Rafael Nadal’s series of sets won at Roland Garros ended at 36 but he quickly recovered to conquer Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0. Nadal’s semifinal foe will be Novak Djokovic or Matteo Berrettini.
Sakkari, who can become Greece’s first Grand Slam singles champion, also Krejcikova, who is from the Czech Republic, are both 25. Each has won only one tour-level title. Neither was beyond the fourth round at a major until today.
Sakkari lost her initial seven third-round Slam matches, which raised some doubts which have been erased.
“I thought about it a lot of times — that maybe that was my ceiling, and I could not get any higher in the ranks, playing better in championships,” she explained. “But this year I demonstrated (to) myself which I am actually playing really great.”
The two Sakkari and Krejcikova dealt with premature shortages Wednesday.
Swiatek, a 20-year-old from Poland that has appeared untouchable on clay, jumped to a 2-0 lead. After Sakkari smacked a backhand winner down the line to close a 15-stroke stage that claimed the first group, she leaned over and punched the air with her right fist.
That ended Swiatek’s set streak at Roland Garros, which dated to the beginning of the past year’s tournament, when she dropped only 28 games whatsoever. She’d only lost 20 games this season through four matches.