PARIS: Czech seventh seed Petra Kvitova put in a powerful display to breeze past unseeded German Laura Siegemund 6-3 6-3 yesterday to reach her second semi-final at the French Open after a gap of eight years. The 30-year-old, a two-times champion at Wimbledon, reached the last four stage on the claycourts at Roland Garros in 2012 and was yet to lose a set at this year’s tournament in Paris, which has lost the top three seeds in the women’s draw.
Roland Garros was where Kvitova made an emotional return to professional tennis three years back after being sidelined for six months following a burglar attack at her home that left her with severe damage to the nerves and tendons in her left hand. “It means a lot to me, definitely,” Kvitova said in her interview on Court Philippe Chatrier. “I didn’t dream to be in a semi-final after everything that happened. “Right now it’s my lucky place, I’m really happy to be here, to play. I really missed it when I was off. I’m happy I’m still able to play and compete with the best.”
Siegemund, ranked 66th in the world, was appearing in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career and had lost her only meeting against the tall and big-serving left-hander 6-1 6-1 at the US Open in 2015. The 32-year-old did not pose a challenge in the opening set as Kvitova put in a near-perfect show. The left-hander hit six aces, lost a single point on her first serve and converted her first breakpoint opportunity to canter through the opener in 34 minutes. She hit 14 winners against five unforced errors.
But the German gave a good account of her fighting spirit in the second despite suffering a lower back problem midway through. Kvitova broke serve early but started having trouble with double faults. She saved three breakpoint chances before the German converted the next to get the set back on serve at 2-2. Siegemund saved three breakpoints from 0-40 in the next game but lost her cool at the umpire after getting a time violation warning at 40-40 and suffered another break.
She then called the trainer to get a massage on her lower back and returned to break Kvitova to get the set back on serve. Kvitova, however, kept her focus and got the decisive break in the next game and then converted her second match point when her opponent served a double fault. “You are playing the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam so I expected her to play very well, which she showed whole match,” Kvitova added. The Czech will meet the winner of the all-American clash between Danielle Collins and Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin for a place in her maiden final at Roland Garros.
Nadal into 13th semi-final
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal reached his 13th Roland Garros semi-final yesterday with a straight sets win over Italian teenager Jannik Sinner but claimed it was “dangerous” to finish at 01:30 in the morning when the temperature had plummeted to 12 degrees (53F). Nadal, the 12-time champion, defeated 19-year-old Sinner 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-1 to clinch a 98th victory in his 100th match at the French Open. He will next face Diego Schwartzman, the diminutive Argentine over whom he holds a 9-1 career advantage, as he moves closer to equaling Roger Federer’s all-time record of 20 majors.
However, Nadal, more accustomed to the bright sunshine of Mallorca than the autumn chill of a French Open pushed back four months due to the coronavirus pandemic, was unhappy with organisers who scheduled five matches on the main Court Philippe Chatrier. “I know footballers play under these conditions, but they are all the time moving,” said Nadal after the latest ever finishing match at the tournament. “We stop, we come back, we stop on the changeovers. I think this is a little bit dangerous for the body with these very heavy conditions.”
Nadal and Sinner only got on court at 10:30pm after Schwartzman and Thiem had taken five hours to decide their quarter-final. They also had to wait for another women’s last-eight tie to be completed after two others had kicked off the program. The sparse and shivering crowd that greeted them wore thick coats, scarves and hats. “I don’t know why they put five matches on Chatrier. It’s a risk,” added 34-year-old Nadal who finished his news conference at 02:10. Nadal will be playing in a 34th semi-final at the majors.
‘I was over limit’
He takes a 9-1 lead over Schwartzman into that match although the Argentine won their most recent clash in Rome on the eve of Roland Garros. World number 75 Sinner, bidding to become the first man to make the semi-finals on debut since Nadal in 2005, was left to rue missed chances. He led with breaks in both of the first two sets, even finding himself just two points away from taking the opener. Nadal admitted he had been in a contest unlike his first four matches where he dropped just 23 games. “It was very tough during the first two sets and especially at the end of the first.
“He was hitting the ball very hard and with the cold, the balls had less lift.” Sinner has been tipped to make the world top 10 next season, but said he is not looking too far ahead. “I’m a person who looks not in the future and not in the past, always in the present,” said the Italian who had seen off two seeded players to make the last-eight – 11th seed David Goffin and sixth-seeded Alexander Zverev, the US Open runner-up. Argentine 12th seed Schwartzman defeated US Open champion and third seed Thiem in a five-hour epic to reach his first ever Grand Slam semi-final.
The 28-year-old Schwartzman triumphed 7-6 (7/1), 5-7, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/5), 6-2. It was one marathon too many for Thiem, the runner-up in Paris for the last two years, who had needed five sets and three and a half hours to down world number 239 Hugo Gaston in the fourth round. The 5ft 7in (1.70m) Schwartzman’s success came on the same day that compatriot Nadia Podoroska, the world 131, reached the last-four of the women’s singles. “Dominic is one of the great players. He is my best friend and I have a lot of respect for him,” said Schwartzman.
“So this win is very important for me. In the second and third sets, I was going a little crazy and I was screaming at myself because I had so many chances. “But, come on, I deserved to win tonight,” added Schwartzman. Thiem had been attempting to reach a fifth successive semi-final in Paris. However, despite crunching 65 winners to his opponent’s 47, he committed 81 unforced errors in a match which featured 19 breaks of serve and at five hours and eight minutes was the second longest of the tournament. “I was over the limit today,” said Thiem. “At the net I just told him that he deserves it. I think he’s for the first time top 10 with that win. “That’s also great achievement.”- Agencies