The favorites again tumbled out of the French Open. Defending champion Iga Swiatek finally lost on the red clay at Roland Garros, going down to Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-4.
“It’s a big achievement, for sure. I’m enjoying… my tennis and myself. I have people around me telling me it was going to come. You know, they were right,” Sakkari said.
“Maybe I was the one who was telling them, I was impatient, telling them, ‘When and when and when?’ It actually came this week, so I’m happy about it.”
The Greek with the powerful serve and groundstrokes, came from an early break down 4-2 in the first to to run away with the first winning four straight games, then two more to lead 2-0 in the second.
At that point, Swiatek, who came in having won 11 straight matches and 22 straight sets at the French Open, left the court for medical attention on her upper right thigh.
Swiatek returned but Sakkari kept the pressure on and finished off the 20-year-old to become the from woman from Greece to make a Grand Slam semifinal.
“Every player has a way of playing, a way of just executing the game plan. I feel like I have a heavy forehand, a good forehand on the clay. I have to play with it. I served really well today.”
Swiatek suffered her first loss in Paris since 2019.
“Obviously I didn’t play my best tennis, that’s for sure,” Swiatek said. “But Maria did a good job with playing at my forehand, which wasn’t working pretty well today… This year I had more pressure on me, but also I did good because I think quarter-final is a good job.
“I’m showing consistency. Obviously I know I can play better than today. Everybody has seen that. I know I can play heavier balls and everything, but days like that happen.
Sakkari, who had never been past the third round at the French Open, will now face Barbora Krejcikova in the semifinals tomorrow.
Krejcikova toughed out Coco Gauff, saving five set points in the first set for a 7-6(6), 6-3 win over the 17-year-old.
“You got to be aggressive, you just got to go, you got to play, you are still up,” said Krejcikova. “Just go for your shots. If you’re going to stay aggressive, it’s not going to slip. That’s what I was telling to myself.”
Both players walked won court on 9-match win streaks, and for much of the first set Gauff was the more solid player. The teen was in charge with her forehand which helped get to a set point on her serve. The Czech rebounded then saved two more set points on her own serve at 5-6.
In the breaker, Gauff took advantage of some shaky serving from Krejcikova to build a 6-4 lead, however the Florida native would not win another point in the set and not another game for 30 minutes.
Krejcikova got up 5-0 in the second and hung on for the biggest win of her career and put herself into her first Slam singles semifinal. She has previously won two Grand Slam doubles titles and three more in mixed.
“I never really wanted to be a doubles specialist,” said Krejcikova who once ranked No. 1 in doubles.
“So I was just working hard all the time. I just wanted to play singles. It was really frustrating that I just wasn’t able to get there.
“But I always felt like if I’m going to work hard, I’m just going to continue, just try to be patient, which is not really my thing, but I felt sooner or later I’m just going to get there and I will have a chance to play all these top players, to learn something, gain some experience.”
Gauff couldn’t take advantage of those five set points. But she’ll be back.
“I’m obviously disappointed that I wasn’t able to close out the first set,” Gauff said. “To be honest, it’s in the past, it already happened. After the match, my hitting partner told me this match will probably make me a champion in the future. I really do believe that.”
Krejcikova beat Sakkari in Dubai earlier this year.
“Just to say the truth, I did not play well in Dubai,” Sakkari said. “It was one of her best weeks. Credit to her. She played very, very good that week. But different conditions, fast court, fast balls. I made a lot of unforced errors.
“I think, of course, it’s going to be very tough, but I’m confident that my coaches will give me the right game plan. So far I have been executing whatever they said really well. I trust myself and I trust their game plan. I think it’s going to work out well.”
The first semifinal tomorrow pits Tamara Zidansek against Russian 29-year-old Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
There will be a new Grand Slam champion crowned on Saturday.
THURSDAY FRENCH OPEN SCHEDULE
** Court Philippe CHATRIER ** Début à 12h00
1 MX F Desirae KRAWCZYK (USA)/Joe SALISBURY (GBR) contre Elena VESNINA (RUS)/ Aslan KARATSEV (RUS)
Pas avant 15h00
2 SD D Anastasia PAVLYUCHENKOVA (RUS)  contre Tamara ZIDANSEK (SLO)
3 SD D Barbora KREJCIKOVA (CZE) contre Maria SAKKARI (GRE) 
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