French Open 2020: Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Andrey Rublev to reach semi-final; Sofia Kenin to meet Petra Kvitova in last four

Tsitsipas, who was the first Greek to have made the quarter-finals in Paris, crunched 35 winners and made just 17 unforced errors.

Agence France-Presse October 07, 2020 17:40:52 IST
French Open 2020: Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Andrey Rublev to reach semi-final; Sofia Kenin to meet Petra Kvitova in last four

Paris: Stefanos Tsitsipas reached his second Grand Slam semi-final on Wednesday with a straight-sets win over Andrey Rublev at Roland Garros, setting up a potential clash with world number one Novak Djokovic for a place in the championship match.

The Greek fifth seed avenged last month's loss to Rublev in the Hamburg final by defeating the Russian 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 to match his breakout run at the 2019 Australian Open.

He will play Djokovic or Spanish 17th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the last four on Friday.

"I've been feeling really comfortable on this court and despite not having a good start and being a break down, I remembered what a big fighter I am," said Tsitsipas.

"It's also about fighting and trying to find solutions in difficult moments. I managed to put my brain to work."

Tsitsipas, 22, has now won 15 successive sets at the tournament having been two sets down to Jaume Munar in the opening round.

French Open 2020 Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Andrey Rublev to reach semifinal Sofia Kenin to meet Petra Kvitova in last four

Stefanos Tsitsipas, who was the first Greek to have made the quarter-finals in Paris, crunched 35 winners and made just 17 unforced errors. AFP

However that streak looked in peril when Rublev, also making his first French Open quarter-final appearance, served for the opening set at 5-4.

A loose game from the Russian 13th seed allowed Tsitsipas to recover and he rattled off four consecutive games to take the lead.

Tsitsipas, last year's ATP Finals champion, dominated the second set to leave Rublev on the brink, profiting from a favourable netcord to break at 3-2 after carving the opening following a 28-shot rally.

Only Djokovic has won more than Rublev's three titles in 2020, but the world number 15 was powerless to stop a supreme Tsitsipas who closed out victory inside two hours.

Tsitsipas, who was the first Greek to have made the quarter-finals in Paris, crunched 35 winners and made just 17 unforced errors.

US Open rematch for Djokovic

Later on Wednesday, top seed Djokovic will target a 38th Grand Slam semi-final when he plays Carreno Busta as he chases a second French Open and 18th major title.

Djokovic has dropped just 25 games through four rounds and sits three wins away from becoming the first man in half a century— and only the third in history —to win all four Slams twice.

However, the 33-year-old suffered his only defeat of the year against Carreno Busta when he was disqualified from the US Open in September for an angry swipe of a ball which hit a female line judge squarely in the throat.

The Serb's only heart-stopping moment in Paris came in his last 16 win over Karen Khachanov when a ball ricocheted off the frame of his racquet and accidentally smashed into the face of a line judge.

"My gosh, it was a very awkward deja vu," said Djokovic, whose 35 wins this year are the most of any player.

Carreno Busta, the world number 18, has lost both his meetings to Djokovic on clay, in Monte Carlo in 2014 and 2017.

The 29-year-old made the semi-finals for the second time in New York and was also in the last eight at Roland Garros in 2017.

However, that experience ended in heartbreak with an abdominal injury forcing him to quit against Rafael Nadal after just 52 minutes.

Carreno Busta, who needed treatment on a stomach problem in last 16 win over Daniel Altmaier on Monday, says that Djokovic's legacy should not be permanently scarred by the incident in New York.

"I think Novak is a great player, a great person. Sometimes we cannot control our emotions. A mistake," said the Spaniard.

Sofia Kenin sets up last-four clash against Petra Kvitova

Petra Kvitova returned to the French Open semi-finals for the first time in eight years on Wednesday after defeating Germany's Laura Siegemund 6-3, 6-3, describing Roland Garros as her "lucky place".

Czech seventh seed Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, will now face Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin who knocked out fellow American Danielle Collins 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 for a place in Saturday's final.

French Open 2020 Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Andrey Rublev to reach semifinal Sofia Kenin to meet Petra Kvitova in last four

Sofia Kenin in action during her French Open quarter-final. AFP

"It means a lot to be back in the semi-finals," said 30-year-old Kvitova who was beaten by eventual champion Maria Sharapova when she made the same stage in 2012.

"After my last match, I was very emotional to be in the quarter-finals. Now I am in the semis. I never imagined this would happen after everything that has happened.

"This is my lucky place."

It was Paris where Kvitova made her comeback in 2017 after spending six months recovering from a terrifying knife attack at her home in December 2016.

The frenzied assault required a four-hour operation and left her with damaged ligaments in her playing hand. Doctors warned her that her career may be finished.

On Wednesday, Kvitova fired 22 winners and six aces past 32-year-old Siegemund, the world number 66 who was playing in the quarter-finals of a Slam for the first time.

One break of serve in the opener was enough for Kvitova while five more breaks followed in the second set.

Kvitova, who has yet to drop a set at the tournament, claimed victory when Siegemund served up a third double fault of the tie.

"I am happy to be here and to be able to compete with the best especially in these conditions -- roof open, roof closed, sunshine, windy."

'It's a joke'

Siegemund leaves behind a tournament to remember having been accused of hitting the ball on a double bounce in her first round win over Kristina Mladenovic.

She then munched on a plate of food courtside during her fourth round victory against Paula Badosa.

On Wednesday, she signed off with a time violation for taking too long between points.

"I was on the line, I was bouncing, I was starting my movement, and it was about once, and literally she (the umpire) was saying that it was one second too slow. I mean, that's a joke," said Siegemund.

Fourth seed Kenin moved two wins from a second Grand Slam title of 2020 when she defeated Collins on the back of 38 winners, out-hitting her 26-year-old rival who had arrived in the last eight having unleashed a tournament total of 140.

It was Kenin's fourth three-set win at the tournament.

"It's really special to be in the semi-finals for the first time. I'm super happy," said Kenin.

Collins required a medical timeout off-court on an abdominal injury at 4-0 down in the decider, but Kenin's resolve never wavered.

Former college tennis champion Collins endured a roller-coaster of an afternoon with one US network claiming she ordered her boyfriend, Aussie Rules player Tom Couch to move to another seat while winning points were accompanied by high-pitched screams of "come on".

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