Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Maybe not the semifinals we were expecting, but they're the semifinals we want!

Today, Australian Open champion and 4th seed Sofia Kenin defeated countrywoman Danielle Collins 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 to book a spot in the French Open semifinals, a situation many would not have predicted for her. The red clay, complete with rather harsh conditions, can bring a lot of good players down to earth. But Kenin is a problem-solver; problem-solving, is, in fact, a "weapon" for her (though the tennis world would never call it such). She just figures things out.

But will she figure out Petra Kvitova? The beloved Czech star defeated clay specialist Laura Siegemund today and now awaits Kenin in the semifinals. This "I like red clay!" Petra has been slicing, happily moving forward to the net, and even executing serve-and-volley since she has been in Paris. Kvitova, in short, looks fierce, and has yet to drop a set. (This morning, a commentator said that Kvitova's success here could get people to think about her as someone other than a grass specialist. Hello! She was the 2019 runner-up at the Australian Open, and has won several premier hard court events, but how quickly commentators forget.)

Yesterday, qualifier Nadia Podoroska defeated 3rd seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets, putting Svitolina's performance in majors under a rather huge lens. The Ukrainian star wins other tournaments with ease, and has an impressive record in finals, but when she gets to the majors, she turns into a different player--one who loses when she "should" win. Of course, the more something like this happens, the harder it is for Svitolina to change the course of her performance in majors. Something needs to change.

Podoroska, incidentally, is the first qualifier ever to advance to the semifinals of Roland Garros.

Finally, Iga Swiatek just keeps on rolling. Yesterday, she defeated qualifier Martina Trevisan 6-3, 6-1. She's also still a major factor in the doubles draw: She and partner Nicole Melichar (the USA's most ignored tennis star) have advanced to the semifinals. 

Melichar and Swiatek, who are unseeded, will face 14th seeds Alexa Guarachi and Disirae Krawczyk. In the other semifinal, 4th seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katarina Siniakova will compete against 2nd seeds Timea Babos and Kiki Mladenovic. Babos and Mladenovic are the defending champions.

In the meantime, wheelchair competition has begun. Top seed and defending champion Diede De Groot won her quarterfinal against Jordanne Whiley, with the unusual score of 6-3, 0-6, 6-1. 2nd seed Yui Kamiji (last year's runner-up) defeated Marjolein Buis, and Aniek Van Koot defeated French wild card Charkotte Famin. In the remaining quarterfinal, Kgothatso Montjane defeated Momoko Ohtani. 

The French Open website could certainly do better by wheelchair players in terms of publishing the draws.

Women's singles semifinals will be played tomorrow, and here is the draw:

Iga Swiatek vs. Nadia Podoroska (Q)
Sofia Kenin (4) vs. Petra Kvitova (7)

It will be the first meeting between Swiatek and Podoroska. Kenin and Kvitova have played each other twice (once on clay), and Kvitova won both of those matches.

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