Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Qualifier makes history; Diego downs Domi in marathon

Elina Svitolina, playing in the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford,
lost to qualifier Nadia Podoroska 6-2, 6-4 in the French Open quarterfinals.
Photo by Mal Taam 
   Both No. 3 seeds lost to Argentines today in the French Open, but one of the results was much more surprising.
   Nadia Podoroska shocked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-2, 6-4 in Paris to become the first female qualifier ever to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros and the first to do so in any Grand Slam tournament since Alexandra Stevenson at Wimbledon in 1999.
   Entering the fortnight, Podoroska, 23, was 0-1 in the main draw of majors, having qualified for the 2016 U.S. Open. A right wrist injury sidelined her for eight months beginning in July 2017. 
  "I worked a lot with my coach during the quarantine to improve in various aspects of the game, and I understand that thanks to all that work, I was able to get here," Podoroska, who has won 13 consecutive matches and 18 of her last 19 (including two minor-league tournaments), said in an on-court interview. "I trained a lot in my shots — my forehand, backhand, the serve. But what I improve most, I think it was my mentality."   
   In the next match on Court Philippe Chatrier, 12th-seeded Diego Schwartzman topped Dominic Thiem, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal in the last two French Opens, 7-6 (1), 5-7, 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-2 in 5 hours, 8 minutes to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.
   Schwartzman, only 5-foot-7 (1.70 meters) and 141 pounds (64 kilograms), twice was two points from losing in the fourth set. He will debut in the top 10 after the French Open, rising from No. 14 to at least No. 8.
   Thiem, 27, battled physical and mental fatigue after outlasting French wild card Hugo Gaston in five sets in the previous round and winning his first Grand Slam title in the recent U.S. Open.
   Schwartzman, 28, will take on the second-seeded Nadal, pursuing his fourth consecutive French Open title and 13th overall, on Friday.
   Nadal, 34, beat unseeded Jannik Sinner, a 19-year-old Italian, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-1 in a match that ended Wednesday at 1:25 a.m. Paris time. Sinner, who advanced to the second round of last year's Aptos (Calif.) Challenger one week after winning the Lexington (Ky.) Challenger, served for the first set at 6-5.
   Nadal, who has not lost a set at Roland Garros this year, fell to Schwartzman for the first time in 10 career meetings two weeks ago in the Italian Open.
   Podoroska, who will soar from No. 131 to a career high of at least No. 48, will face unseeded Iga Swiatek, 19, of Poland for the first time on Thursday. 
   Swiatek, coming off a 6-1, 6-2 thrashing of top seed and 2018 champion Simona Halep, outclassed qualifier Martina Trevisan, a 5-foot-3 (1.60-meter) left-hander from Italy, 6-3, 6-1 in 78 minutes. 
   Swiatek, the 2018 Wimbledon girls singles champion, has not lost more than four games in a set or more than five games in a match in the tournament. She joined Jadwiga Jedrzejowska in 1939 as the only Polish women to reach the French Open semifinals and will jump from No. 54 to a career high of at least No. 33.
   In a fourth-round match postponed one day by rain, unseeded Danielle Collins of St. Petersburg, Fla., outlasted 30th-seeded Ons Jabeur, the 2011 French Open girls singles champion, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. 
   Collins, a semifinalist in the 2019 Australian Open and inaugural (2018) Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose, Calif., will play fourth-seeded Sofia Kenin, the reigning Australian Open champion from Pembroke Pines, Fla. 
   Collins has never dropped a set in three career matches against Kenin, who won Northern California Challengers in 2016 at 17, 2017 and 2018.
   Neither defending champion Ashleigh Barty (coronavirus concerns) nor U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka (hamstring injury) entered the French Open. Serena Williams, a three-time champion at Roland Garros, withdrew before her second-round match with an Achilles tendon problem.
   In the first round of boys doubles, unseeded Arthur Fery, a Stanford freshman, and Felix Gill of Great Britain beat top-seeded Arthur Cazaux and Harold Mayot of France by walkover.

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