Paris: Unseeded Tamara Zidansek became the first Slovenian woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final as she beat Spain’s Paula Badosa 7-5 4-6 8-6 in a gripping French Open battle on Tuesday.
A match between two Grand Slam quarter-final debutants was full of momentum shifts, but it was world No. 85 Zidansek who handled the occasion better to claim victory.
Her previous two main draw appearances at Roland Garros had resulted in first-round losses, but having beaten former US open champion Bianca Andreescu in the opening round she has gone from strength to strength on the red dirt.
“Of course it was a great opportunity for the both of us to get into the semi-finals,” she said. “But I guess I managed to keep my composure today a little bit better than her.
“But still, it was a tough battle in the end.”
Zidansek will play experienced Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Thursday’s semi-final, with the Russian beating Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina 6-7(2) 6-2 9-7 in the other quarters.
The two others women’s quarter-finals, featuring defending champion Iga Swiatek against Maria Sakkari and American teenager Coco Gauff against Barbora Krejcikova, take place on Wednesday.
After initially being out-hit by Badosa and dropping her opening two service games, the 23-year-old Zidansek settled down and began to dictate with her accurate forehand.
Badosa saved a set point at 5-6 with a thumping forehand but then netted an attempted drop shot to lose the opening set.
Zidansek then led 4-2 in the second set but the big-hitting Badosa, ranked 35, began to unleash her baseline weapons and reeled off six games in a row to seize command.
The 29-year-old Pavlyuchenkova had lost at the quarter-final stage of one of the four majors, but she used all her experience to overcome her doubles partner in a gruelling scrap.
Rybakina, 21, looked in control of her first Grand Slam quarter-final when she opened up a 4-1 lead in the first set but Pavlyuchenkova hit back to force a tiebreak.
Pavlyuchenkova took the momentum into the second set to level the match and kept her nose ahead in a tense finale.
Rybakina, who beat Serena Williams in the fourth round, held serve three times to stay alive in the third set.
But she failed at the fourth time of asking, ending the contest in tame fashion with a double-fault.
24-Coco Gauff (U.S.) vs Barbora Krejcikova (Czech Republic)
17-Maria Sakkari (Greece) vs 8-Iga Swiatek (Poland)
3-Rafa Nadal (Spain) vs 10-Diego Schwartzman (Argentina)
1-Novak Djokovic (Serbia) v 9-Matteo Berrettini (Italy)