One semifinal features two Major champions, while the other is one of the unlikeliest matchups ever at this stage of a Slam.
A year ago at this tournament, Sofia Kenin made her breakthrough, upsetting Serena Williams to reach the round of 16 at a Major for the first time. Now she’s just two matches away from her second Slam title of the year. Petra Kvitova is into her first Roland Garros semifinal in eight years, at the same event where she made an emotional return in 2017 after a career-threatening hand injury at the hands of a home intruder. The two-time Wimbledon champion is looking to reach her fourth championship match at a Major.
19-year-old Iga Swiatek has already built an impressive resume since making her Slam debut just last year, reaching the second week in three of her first seven Majors. She has dominated the competition to reach the semifinals in both singles and doubles, without dropping a set in either discipline. 23-year-old Nadia Podoroska had never won a match at a Slam prior to this fortnight, and is the first qualifier to ever reach the Roland Garros semifinals. But the Argentine knows how to win, with an astonishing 42 victories at all levels in this abbreviated season.
Sofia Kenin (4) vs. Petra Kvitova (7)
Kivtova leads their head-to-head 2-0. Petra prevailed in three sets on a hard court two years ago in Miami, and in straight sets on clay last year in Madrid. But since that last meeting nearly 18 months ago, Kenin has raised her game considerably, becoming one of the strongest and most consistent competitors on tour. Kvitova has reached this stage much more comfortably, without dropping a set. Kenin’s path has been much more challenging, as four of her five matches have gone the distance. And the American just played her quarterfinal yesterday, while Kvitova had a day off before today’s semifinal. Despite struggling a bit throughout this tournament, the reigning Australian Open champion has played her best tennis when she needed it. That was especially evident yesterday against Danielle Collins, when Kenin dominated the third set 6-0, hitting 14 winners and only five unforced errors in that set. Her level has steadily improved match-to-match. Since the third round, she’s averaged 14 winners per set, with 10 unforced errors.
In taking a closer look at Kvitova’s numbers, she’s played well, but not great. Through five matches, she’s won 67% of first serve points, which is modest for one of the WTA’s best servers. And Petra’s been broken 11 times. But putting the stats aside, Kvitova lefty serve and forehand are hard to attack, and she should be considered the slight favorite. Kenin can ill afford to fall behind as she has multiple times this fortnight. As per Tennis Abstract, Kvitova wins 91% of matches in her career when she wins the first set. The deciding factor may be who better handles the pressure of this moment, knowing whoever wins will be the favorite in Saturday’s final.
Iga Swiatek vs. Nadia Podoroska (Q)
This will be the first career meeting for these first-time Slam semifinalists. Swiatek has been untouchable this fortnight. She’s averaged just two games lost per set. Iga even upset top-seeded Simona Halep, allowing the 2018 champion just three games. There really has been no penetrable weakness in her game. Her net play has been stellar, winning 80% of points when coming forward. And her groundstrokes have controlled the rallies, averaging seven more winners than errors per match despite hitting with significant power.
Podoroska’s run has been nearly as impressive, winning eight straight matches since the first round of qualifying 16 days ago. And she’s dropped only two of 18 sets contested. However, she does not possess the same firepower or craftiness as her teenage opponent. And while you certainly can’t refer to Swiatek as a veteran, she has far more experience at a Major than the Argentine. As per the WTA, a qualifier has never reached a Grand Slam final, so Nadia is trying to break entirely new ground. A year ago at this event, Marketa Vondrousova was a shocking 19-year-old finalist. In the opening round this year, Swiatek defeated Vondrousova. Perhaps there’s some symmetry there, as 19-year-old Iga is the favorite to advance to this year’s championship match.
Other Notable Matches on Day 12:
In the men’s doubles semifinals, 2019 Wimbledon and US Open champions Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah (1) vs. Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares (7), the 2020 US Open champions.
In the second semifinal, defending Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and and Andreas Mies (8) vs. Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic (9), finalists at last month’s US Open.
Thursday’s full schedule is here.
Fanless Wimbledon Still On The Cards For Next Year, Says Organisers
The grass-court Grand Slam, which was first held in 1877, has outlined it’s plans for the coming months.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club has vowed to hold next year’s Wimbledon Championships even if it means the tournament taking place behind closed doors.
This year’s grass-court major was axed for the first time since World War Two due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was the only Grand Slam to be cancelled. Although unlike the other three premier events, Wimbledon had the luxury of a pandemic insurance to cover some of its costs. The policy cost in the region of £1.5 million per year and was paid for more than 15 years in a row. Although full details of the payout has not been made public.
However, it will be a different scenario next year with the tournament being unable to be insured by the same policy due to the ongoing pandemic. Now organizers are looking at three options regarding hosting the event with the possibility of a full capacity, reduced capacity or no fans at all. The US Open was held behind closed doors earlier this year but the French Open did allow a limited number of fans. Any decision will be influenced by government policy around the time the event will take place.
“Staging The Championships in 2021 is our number one priority and we are actively engaged in scenario planning in order to deliver on that priority,” AELTC Chief Executive Sally Bolton said in a statement.
“I would like to thank the government and public health authorities for their ongoing advice which will continue to be invaluable as The Championships 2021 draws closer. At the same time, we are delighted to demonstrate confidence in Wimbledon with the renewal of several partnerships across our commercial programme which play a significant contribution to the successful staging of The Championships both in 2021 and in the future.”
Amid the uncertainty, Wimbledon is still managing to maintain a strong corporate portfolio with Rolex recently agreeing to extend their partnership. The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer has been working with the Grand Slam since 1978 when it was named the official timekeeper. The AELTC have also renewed deals with Jaguar, IBM, Robinsons and Pimm’s. Meanwhile, Sipsmith has been named the first official gin of the Championships.
As well as planning for next year, Wimbledon has also reiterated their commitment to support those during the pandemic via its charitable foundation. The Wimbledon Foundation has set up a £1.2m Coronavirus Fund to help people living across Merton and Wandsworth, London, as well as other parts of the country. £750,000 has already been donated to local charities and organisations. Furthermore, 30,000 towels meant to be used at this year’s tournament has been redistributed for alternative use by the Foundation. For example 4000 towels were given to the homeless charity Crises.
“Since the cancellation of The Championships 2020, we have worked hard to make a difference to those in our local community and beyond as the coronavirus continues to have a significant impact on people’s lives,” said AELTC chairman Ian Hewitt.
“As the winter period begins, we are pleased to be extending our hot meals programme to continue to help those in need locally for the challenging months ahead. We are committed to using the collective strength of Wimbledon – all the many facets of the Club, The Championships and our Foundation – to play our part.”
The 2021 Wimbledon Championships is set to take place between Monday, 28th June and Sunday, 11th July.
Crunch Time Beckons For 2021 Australian Tennis Season, Warns Tiley
The tennis chief speaks out about the challenges he faces in the coming weeks ahead of the start of the new tennis season.
The head of Tennis Australia admits that plans for tournaments at the start of next year are still up in the air as he waits to hear back from local government officials.
Craig Tiley will be overseeing the string of events which also include the premier Australian Open. Prior to the Grand Slam officials are hoping to stage a series of tournaments around the country like it has done in previous years. Although due to the COVID-19 pandemic some states still have border restrictions which makes travelling more challenging.
The ongoing restrictions will be the most troublesome for the ATP Cup which is a multi-team men’s event that took place across three cities this year with Novak Djokovic guiding Serbia to the title. Tiley remains optimistic that everything can go ahead as planned but admits the decision is out of his hands.
“We’re getting to crunch time now. We need commitments from the governments and the health officers,” he told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
“We need to kind of know in the next two weeks, maybe a month, that this is what can happen: borders are going to open and then we can have a multi-city event.
“If we cannot have a multi-city event, we’ve got to reconsider everything.”
Another key issue will be the 14-day quarantine process players will have to go through. Something they didn’t have at either the US Open or French Open. The hope is local authorities will relax their rules and allow players to train during this period. Enabling Tennis Australia to create a ‘bubble’ for them to live within.
“Right now the challenge we have is the borders are still closed,” he said.
“So we’ve got a plan on the basis that there will be all open borders.
“So we’re working with all state governments. We completely accept that everyone coming from overseas has got to have two weeks in quarantine.
“What we are negotiating, or what we’re trying to have an agreement on, is that we set up a quarantine environment where they can train and go between the hotel and the courts in those two weeks.
“That’s similar to the AFL.
“The difference we have with the AFL is we are bringing in players from overseas so the stakes are higher.”
If players are not allowed to train during this period, Tiley has reportedly ruled out staging the event all together.
“If a player has to quarantine and be stuck in a hotel for two weeks just before their season, that won’t happen,” he stated on Thursday.
“You can’t ask players to quarantine for two weeks and then step out and be ready to play a grand slam.”
According to the AAP, the Melbourne major is set to take place with 25% of its usual crowd capacity and players will be allowed to travel with three members of their team.
The Australian Open is set to get underway on January 18th. Djokovic and Sofia Kenin are the reigning champions.
A Solitary Stroll Through Roland Garros
The small number of spectators reveals glimpses of the Parisian system that are often hidden
PARIS – Seeing the avenues that connect the various fields of a relatively deserted Slam tournament is an experience that rarely happens during the course of the tournament, and is normally limited to the days or periods in which access is allowed only to staff members. During the 2020 French Open, however, it was quite common to see the areas in front of the various courts almost completely empty.
What you see below is the area between the southern Grandstand of the Philippe Chatrier court and the various commercial stands that border the area reserved to camera crews. When a match has just finished on the main court, that area becomes very crowded and going from the beginning to the end of that stretch, more or less 50 meters long, could take up to ten minutes.
At the bottom of this passage is the new “Musketeers Square”, an open space that was enlarged for the 2020 edition thanks to the demolition of the old Court 1, the famous “bullring”, which was inaugurated in 1980 but has now been replaced by the Court Simonne Mathieu as the third most important court of the Roland Garros.
A giant screen has been placed in this area (to mimic Wimbledon’s notorious “Henman hill” and the US Open’s “main plaza” opposite the main entrance of Arthur Ashe Stadium), as well at tables for spectators and the main commercial stands for the sponsors of the tournament.
In the background of the Musketeers Square, to the left of this image is the tournament’s official Boutique, where the official Roland Garros merchandise is sold, while the gateway leading to the Serre d’Auteuil and the Court Simonne Mathieu is at the bottom, after the commercial stands and courts 2 and 4.
The Court Simonne Mathieu, inaugurated in 2019, was built as a compromise between the expansion of Roland Garros and the conservation of the Auteuil greenhouses. The court is surrounded by greenhouses, one on each side, which symbolize the ecosystem of four continents of the earth with plants typical of each of these habitats.
Returning to Philippe Chatrier, courts 2 and 4 can be seen – they are among those that have the smallest stands and are typically used for training during “standard” editions of the tournament. This year, however, players were not allowed to enter the facility on the days when they were not supposed to compete, and therefore these courts were used almost exclusively for matches.
Looking beyond the Philippe Chatrier court, you can see the unmistakable profile of the Court Suzanne Lenglen, in front of which there is a high relief dedicated to the unforgettable champion of the 1920’s.
Part of the area in front of the second main court is currently a construction site, as two of the courts are being rebuilt as part of the project that will see a mobile roof built over the Suzanne Lenglen to allow the tournament to have a second court with a retractable roof and to prepare the facility to host boxing matches during the 2024 Paris Olympics.
During this year’s tournament, all the refreshment stands around the Suzanne Lenglen court were not opened due to the particularly low number of spectators (only 1000 per session allowed by the French authorities), including one that allowed order through the tournament’s app and to collect it without having to queue like in traditional stores.
Behind the Suzanne Lenglen, the newest area of the facility is to be found, with courts numbered from 12 to 14, plus two training courts, number 15 and 16. All of these courts have been equipped with artificial lighting mounted on telescopic pylons so that they can be lowered during the day and thus not cause the characteristic shadows on the court that can disturb the players.
As a gift to the authorised press members, and to try to increase the turnover of the present bar, journalists were given the opportunity to access the catwalk on the sixth floor of the Philippe Chatrier, usually reserved for stand-up TV sports shows. A rather peculiar view of the matches on the main court is to be had up here – the area has some tables to the work as well as a fully functional air conditioning system.
Translated by Andrea Ferrero; edited by Tommaso Villa
Jannik Sinner cruises past James Duckworth in Cologne
Daria Kasatkina upsets Elena Rybakina in Ostrava
Roland Garros – Un Dernier Regard (A Last Look)
Borna Coric Admits He Was Difficult To Work With As He Targets Top 10 Milestone
Steve Johnson beats Marin Cilic for the first time in his career in Cologne
French Open, Steve Flink: “Nadal is close to his best. Sinner will be in the Top 10 within a year”
Andy Murray Outlines Next Steps Following Cologne Defeat
Goran Ivanisevic Under Fire Over French Open Comment Involving Djokovic And Nadal
COMMENT: Rafa At His Best Was Way Too Much For Novak To Handle
‘Completely Sick’ Alexander Zverev Reveals He Had Been Suffering From A Fever After French Open Exit
French Open, Steve Flink: “Nadal is inhuman. He can play three or four more years and retire with Djokovic”
Scanagatta And Flink: “We Both Think Djokovic Will Win The French Open, So Nadal Will Definitely Pull It Off!”
Steve Flink: “Djokovic Will Be Happy About The French Open Draw”
Flink: “Zverev wasted the lead, but Thiem would have been more affected by a loss”
(VIDEO) Dominic Thiem Finally Wins A Grand Slam
Hot Topics1 day ago
The Greatest Tennis Players On Clay In The Open Era: An Analysis
ATP2 days ago
Andy Murray Names The One Player Who Intimidated Him During His Career
ATP3 days ago
Novak Djokovic Will Break Federer’s Records, Says Coach
ATP2 days ago
Andrey Rublev On Why He Believes Rafael Nadal Is The ‘Best Ever Athlete’
Hot Topics1 day ago
Bid To Rename Top Swiss Sports Venue After Roger Federer Fails
ATP2 days ago
Andy Murray’s Injury Woes Continue With Another Tournament Withdrawal
Latest news3 days ago
Andrey Rublev continues his bid to qualify for the ATP Finals with a semifinal win over Denis Shapovalov in St. Petersburg
ATP2 days ago
Alexander Zverev Confident ATP Finals Will Be Safe To Attend