Podoroska stuns Svitolina to make French Open semis

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PARIS: Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska became the first qualifier in the Open era on Tuesday to reach the women’s semi-finals at Roland Garros after stunning third seed Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-4.

World No. 131 Podoroska had never won a Grand Slam main draw match before the tournament and is the only the third female qualifier to make the last four of a major.

Podoroska, 23, will play Polish teenager Iga Swiatek or Italy’s Martina Trevisan as she attempts to become the first women’s qualifier in history to advance to the final of any of the four majors.

Alexandra Stevenson reached the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 1999 while Christine Dorey achieved a similar run at the 1978 Australian Open.

It was the first time Podoroska had even faced a player inside the top 20, having started the year ranked a lowly 255.

She is guaranteed 425,250 euros ($501,740) following her breakout performance in Paris, easily doubling her total career earnings of $301,547.

Podoroska is also the first Argentine woman to reach the last four of a Slam since Paola Suarez in Paris in 2004. Gabriela Sabatini, the 1990 US Open winner, is the country’s only women’s Grand Slam singles champion.

For Svitolina, it marked a third quarter-final defeat in as many attempts at Roland Garros, having also lost at this stage in 2015 and 2017.

The Ukrainian hit just eight winners — the same number of times she dropped serve — as she slumped to her worst defeat at a major in terms of her opponent’s ranking.

Danielle Collins will face Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in the quarter-finals after a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Tunisian 30th seed Ons Jabeur, in a match rescheduled from Monday due to rain.

World No. 57 Collins, a semi-finalist in Melbourne last year, is through to the last eight at a major for the second time. She became the fifth unseeded player in the quarter-finals of the women’s draw, the most since Grand Slam tournaments were expanded to 32 seeds in 2001.

Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, defeated Karen Khachanov in straight sets to make the quarter-finals for the 11th consecutive year late on Monday while Sofia Kenin escaped trouble to also clinch a spot in the last eight.

Top seed and 2016 champion Djokovic won 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 against Russian 15th seed Khachanov to draw level with Rafael Nadal on a record 14 quarter-final appearances in Paris.

Djokovic faced his toughest assignment so far but Khachanov was unable to derail his bid to become the first man in half a century to win all four Grand Slam titles twice.

The Serb hit 44 winners and has yet to drop a set in the tournament, losing only 25 games in four rounds. He improved his record in 2020 to 35 wins against just one loss.

The world No. 1 will face Pablo Carreno Busta, the man who benefited from Djokovic’s US Open disqualification, for a spot in the last four after the Spaniard swept German qualifier Daniel Altmaier aside in three sets.

Australian Open champion Kenin recovered from a set down against Fiona Ferro, the last home player left in the singles draw, to advance 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.

The 49th-ranked Ferro, who won on clay in Palermo in August, threatened an upset as she reeled off six games on the bounce to grab the opening set. But Kenin, who was taken to three sets in the first two rounds, stormed back to move into the quarter-final.

Results on Tuesday (prefix number denotes seeding):

Women’s singles:

Fourth round: Danielle Collins (US) bt 30-Ons Jabeur (Tunisia) 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

Quarter-final: Nadia Podoroska (Argentina) bt 3-Elina Svitolina (Ukraine) 6-2, 6-4.

Monday’s remaining results:

Men’s singles:

Fourth round: 1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) bt 15-Karen Khachanov (Russia) 6-4, 6-3, 6-3; 17-Pablo Carreno Busta (Spain) bt Daniel Altmaier (Germany) 6-2, 7-5, 6-2.

Women’s singles:

Fourth round: 1-Sofia Kenin (US) bt Fiona Ferro (France) 2-6, 6-2, 6-1.