Greeks Maria Sakkari, Stefanos Tsitsipas make French Open semifinal history

Maria Sakkari of Greece (pictured) will face Czech Barbora Krejcikova in the 2021 French Open sem-finals Thursday in Paris. Photo by Caroline Blumberg/EPA-EFE
Maria Sakkari of Greece (pictured) will face Czech Barbora Krejcikova in the 2021 French Open sem-finals Thursday in Paris. Photo by Caroline Blumberg/EPA-EFE

June 10 (UPI) -- Greece will be represented in the men's and women's semifinals of the same Grand Slam for this week for the first time, as Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari play for title-match berths in Paris.

The semifinal matches for the clay-court grand slam were finalized Wednesday.


"I don't want to get too excited because I don't have a day off, but it's a big achievement for sure," Sakkari told reporters.

"I'm enjoying my tennis and myself. I had people around me telling me it was going to come and they were right."

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No American men advanced past the third round. Cori "Coco" Gauff was the final American to exit. She lost in the quarterfinals.

Sakkari, 25, will make her Grand Slam semifinal debut against Czech Barbora Krejcikova, who beat Gauff, at 10:15 a.m. EDT Thursday. Sakkari is the first Greek woman to advance to a semifinal since Helene Contostavlos do so at the 1925 French Open.

Sakkari started the tournament with a June 1 win over Ukrainian Katarina Zavatska. She then beat Italian Jasmine Paolini and German Elie Mertens to advance to the fourth round. Sakkari beat American Sofia Kenin in straight sets Monday to advance to the quarterfinal with Swiatek.

Krejcikova bounced fellow Czech Kristyna Pliskova in the first round. She beat Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round and upset Ukrainian Elina Svitolina to reach the fourth round. The unseeded Czech beat American Sloane Stephens on Monday to advance to her match with Gauff.

She won each of her last four matches in straight sets.

"I just really appreciate that I'm here," Krejcikova told reporters Wednesday. "I appreciate that I'm playing tennis, doing what I love to do and playing all of these amazing athletes."

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Unseeded Slovenian Tamara Zidansek and Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will meet in the first women's semifinal at 9 a.m. EDT Thursday in Paris. Zidansek scored wins over Canadien Bianca Andreescu, American Madison Brengle, Czech Katerina Siniakova, Romanian Sorana Cirstea and Spain's Paula Badosa to reach the final.

Pavlyuchenkova started her run with a first-round win over American Christina McHale. She then beat Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic, Belarusians Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka and Kazakhstan's Elena Rybakina to reach the semifinals.

Sakkari, ranked No. 18, is the only player left in the tournament with a current ranking inside the WTA's Top 30. She is a heavy favorite to advance to the final.

Krejcikova has a 2-0 career record against Sakkari. Zidansek and Pavlyuchenkova will meet for the first time. Sakkari is 1-1 against Pavlyuchenkova and hasn't faced Zidansek.


Tsitsipas has tough test

Tsitsipas, 22, beat world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in straight sets Tuesday to advance to his fourth Grand Slam semifinal. Like Sakkari, he still lacks a Grand Slam title. His road to a first major title is still loaded with roadblocks.

"I'm playing good, [but] I don't think there is a player out there that thinks they can't win the tournament," Tsitsipas told reporters Tuesday. "They all know they can play well. ... If I keep repeating the process and the hustle there will be a reward."

The No. 5 player in the WTA rankings was expected to be a top contender at Roland Garros. He lost to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the 2020 French Open.

Tsitsipas beat France's Jeremy Chardy in straight sets to start his run at Roland Garros. He scored additional wins over Spain's Pedro Martinez and Pablo Carreno Busta and American John Isner to reach the quarterfinals.

He beat Medvedev of Serbia in straight sets Tuesday to advance to the semifinals.

Tsitsipas will battle Germany's Alexander Zverev on Friday in the semifinals. The winner of that match faces Spain's Rafael Nadal, a 15-time French Open champion, or Serbia's Djokovic in the final.


Zverev beat fellow German Oscar Otte, Russian Roman Safiullin, Serbia's Laslo Dere, Japan's Kei Nishikori and Spain's Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to reach the semifinals.

Nadal needed four sets to edge Argentine Diego Schwartzman on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. He beat Australia's Alexei Popyrin, France's Richard Gasquet, Great Britain's Cameron Norrie and Italian Jannik Sinner in addition to Schwartzman.

Djokovic beat Italiani Matteo Berrettini on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. He beat American Tennys Sandgren, Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas, Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis and Italian Lorenzo Musetti in addition to Berrettini.

Nadal remains the favorite to win the singles title.

Tsitsipas is 5-2 in career matches against Zverev. Nadal is 8-2 against Tsitsipas and 6-3 against Zverev. Djokovic is 29-28 against Nadal, but Nadal beat Djokovic in the 2020 French Open final. Nadal owns a 7-1 career record against Djokovic at the French Open.

French Open schedule


Women's semifinal: Tamara Zidansek vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at 9 a.m. EDT on the Tennis Channel.

Women's semifinal: Barbora Krejcikova vs. Maria Sakkari at 11 a.m. EDT on the Tennis Channel


Men's semifinal: Alexander Zverev vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas at TBD on the Tennis Channel

Men's semifinal: Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic at TBD on the Tennis Channel



Women's final: Tamara Zidansek or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova vs. Barbora Krejcikova or Maria Sakkari at 9 a.m. EDT on NBC


Men's final: Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic vs. Alexander Zverev or Stefanos Tsitsipas at 9 a.m. EDT on NBC

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