Andreeva stuns Sabalenka to reach Roland Garros semis

TEENAGE star Mirra Andreeva became the youngest Roland Garros semi-finalist in 27 years overnight with a massive upset of world number two and reigning finalist Aryna Sabalenka. The Belarussian struggled physically throughout the match, but Andreeva still played fantastic tennis, winning in a tough three-setter, 6-7 6-4 6-4 on Court Philippe-Chartrier.

The Russian world number 38 kept pushing throughout the match after dropping the first set in a tiebreaker and looked every bit a Grand Slam contender. She hit 43 winners throughout the match and looked overcome with emotions at the end of the match, while an unwell Sabalenka departed the French Open following a proud performance in the face of adversity.

“I forgot the score at the end, I just tried to stay focused,” Andreeva said post-match. In my second match point, I imagined I was trying to save break point. I tried to play brave and I managed to win.”

The two-hour and 29-minute match saw Andreeva out-ace Sabalenka (4-3), and though both players only served a a low efficiency, it was the young Russian who won 57 and 49 per cent of her first and second serve points compared to Sabalenka’s 53 and 48 per cent. Andreeva also hit 15 less unforced errors (26-41) in a tidy performance, and while the Belarusian forced her to make more mistakes (32 forced errors to 18), Andreeva’s varied game was key to the win.

“I see the game, I just play wherever I want, I don’t even have a plan. When I see an open space, I try to hit there. “Me and my coach had a plan today, but I didn’t remember anything during the match. I just tried to play as I feel.”

Andreeva will now face Italian Jasmine Paolini after the 12th seed also caused an upset, fighting through three sets in two hours and three minutes to knock out fourth seeded Kazakh Elena Rybakina, 6-2 4-6 6-4. Just over a month ago the youngster managed to pick up a 7-6 6-4 victory in Madrid.

I played her in Madrid, it was a really tough match mentally and game wise,” Andreeva said. “She plays really fast, moves really fast, she goes for it no matter the score or the situation. I think it will be a little bit like today, I’ll try to play the same level with a ‘cold head’ and we’ll see what happens.”

It was a memorable day for Paolini who recorded her first win over a top five player at a Grand Slam, and reached her first semi-final. She dominated early taking the first set 6-2 and led 4-3 on the verge of serving for a break, but instead Rybakina hit back to take the second set, forcing Paolini to step up once again and win it in three.

“I just tried to stay there every point, and to forget what happened in the second set, because it can happen – it’s tennis, so it’s normal,” Paolini said post-match. I managed to come back and to stay focused, I just accepted it and fought again.” 

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments