By Jane Voigt
June 4, 2014 — There was symmetry after rain delayed quarterfinal matches in Paris this morning. Ending scores matched, and two new faces advanced to their first-ever Grand Slam semifinal.
Simona Halep (No. 4) defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova (No. 27), 62 62. And, Andrea Petkovic (No. 28) defeated Sara Errani (No. 10), 62 62.
This all means that either Halep of Petkovic will advance to their first-ever Grand Slam final, as well, on Saturday.
Each win took about an hour, which the men were happy about. With a best-of-five marching order, the sooner they got on the better. Petkovic was denied an on-court interview to speed things up.
Halep engaged former French Open Champion Kuznetsova immediately, forcing the Russian to scramble for shots that created a figure-eight pattern. She could not get on top of any points. It took a toll. Kuznetsova took a medical time out at the end of set one and returned with strapping on her upper left thigh.
“I felt very good on court,” Halep told the press. “It was a perfect day for me. I played really well and stuck to my game plan. I was very aggressive. I played very fast. I’m really happy that now I can play in the semifinals in Paris.”
Halep advanced to the quarterfinals of The Australian Open in January, but was walloped by the eventual runner-up, Dominika Cibulkova, 63 60. But today Halep did one better with this win. She also has not dropped a set through five rounds.
The Romanian took the spotlight in Paris in 2008, as well, when she won the Junior Roland Garros Championship in singles. Her coach Virginia Ruzici, also from Romania, is the only Romanian woman to have hoisted this prestigious trophy. The year, 1978.
Andrea Petkovic took control early in her match, too, against the favored Errani. After the rain passed, winds gusted and swirled on the larger center court. Errani could not set up for her shots, was off-balance, and cranky. Meanwhile the German marched forward, using her big forehand for precise winners.
“I have to say, today I was in a real zone,” Petkovic said. “I didn’t think at all. I was just focused on what I had to do.”
Last year Petkovic lost in the second round of qualifications. She was trying to recover from injuries and found herself in a pit of despair. Those days after that loss were some of her darkest. She thought about giving up the sport.
Today, she proved to herself and fans just how hard she has worked to recover her game and a less frantic attitude about training. She has finally recouped her love of the sport.
“I had a very good game plan from my coach,” Petkovic began. “It didn’t work in the beginning. I was getting a little, not panicked, but when you have a certain game plan and you lose the first two games and it’s not working. I was kind of getting a little worried. But I started putting more balls into play.”
Petkovic, like Halep, had never won a slam quarterfinal. The German was 0-3, having lost at this stage at the 2011 Australian Open, French Open, and U. S. Open, when she was ranked in the top ten. The following year, she lost in the first round of the U. S. Open. Then, in 2013 she exited the Australian Open in the first round, and only made the round of 64 at Wimbledon.
According to The New York Times, Andrea does not feel as if she is as consistent as she needs to be. “After all my injuries, it’s been a very long time that I was out. You sort of forget, especially mentally. You sort of forget a lot of things.”
The only thing both these women care about right now is tennis. They are new faces for the tournament, which is very good for women’s tennis and tennis in general.
The women’s semifinal matches will be tomorrow. According to the web site for Roland Garros, both are scheduled on Court Phillippe Chatrier, beginning at 9 a.m. EST. Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard will come on first, followed by Halep and Petkovic.