Rybakina Surges Into French Open Quarterfinals

Elena Rybakina (photo: @rolandgarros/Twitter)

PARIS, June 6, 2021 (by Alessandro Boroch)

Elena Rybakina scored a massive victory at the French Open Sunday. The 21-year-old from Kazakhstan stunned three-time Roland Garros champion Serena Williams, ousting the American 6-3, 7-5 in the fourth round to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

It’s arguably the biggest Grand Slam victory of Rybakina’s young career.

Rybakina barely showed signs of nervousness on Court Philippe-Chatrier, although later, she admitted that she was extremely nervous while getting ready to serve for the match. “I’m so happy with my match today, it was amazing and thank you for coming to watch today,” said the No. 21 seed during her on-court interview. She’s playing in just her second Roland-Garros main draw.

“Of course, I was nervous, even in the last game. I was not serving that well before, but I’m just happy that I managed to with my thoughts and everything and I won today.”

Rybakina, who was never down a single break during the course of the one hour and 18-minute match, did not shy away from competing with Serena’s power. She even showed that she could increase the tempo to blast off winners arbitrarily, producing 21 compared to just 15 by Williams.

Into her maiden quarterfinal Grand Slam appearance, Rybakina will oppose her good friend and doubles partner, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, who battled past No. 15 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 earlier in the day. It will be the seventh Grand Slam singles quarterfinal for the No. 13 seed Pavlyuchenkova and her first in Paris since 2011, when she was 19.

“Tough to remember what I felt 10 years ago,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “I’d say completely different. I’m very happy also now. I think I feel a little different. I feel like more mature. It’s a good moment. I’m enjoying it, but I’ve got work to do next match.”

Despite reaching the quarterfinals at all four majors in both singles and doubles, Pavlyuchenkova still is trying to break through to the semifinal stage of a Grand Slam. She’s 0-6 in singles and 0-5 in doubles.

Medvedev and Tsitsipas set for another clash

For the eighth time in their respective pro careers, Daniil Medvedev, 25, of Russia and Stefanos Tsitsipas, 22, from Greece will meet each other for a place in the semifinals of the men’s singles at Roland-Garros.

Going into the major, the second seed Medvedev had never won a single match in Paris. He also admitted he “hates playing on clay” after earning just a single victory in Madrid and Rome during lead-up tournaments to the French Open.

However, Medvedev is now into the quarterfinal round of the clay-court major, having dropped just a single set through his first four matches. The Russian took revenge on 23rd-ranked Cristian Garin of Chile, against whom he had lost in three sets last month at the Mutua Madrid Open, by scoring a convincing 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 win this time. The World No. 2 finished with 40 winners, including 14 aces.

Medvedev is the 11th Russian man in the Open Era to reach the last eight at Roland-Garros. If he goes on to win the Coupe des Mousquetaires, he would be crowned as the new World No. 1. However, the dream of picking up the title still requires a lot of work for Medvedev. Next, he will play the in-form Tsitsipas, who is the No. 1 player in the 2021 ATP Live Race, having won trophies this year the ATP 250 in Lyon, France, and the ATP Masters 1000 at Monte-Carlo at the start of the spring European clay season. The fifth seed Tsitsipas, who improved his win-loss record this season to 37-8 after flying past Spanish No. 12 seed Pablo Carreño Busta, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5, has not dropped a single set so far during his Roland Garros campaign.

“My performance was very good. I was very mentally there in every single game,” Tsitsipas said. “Whether I was serving or not, I was very concentrated in the procedure, in the process.”

The 2019 Nitto ATP Finals champion will be heading into his match against Medvedev as the favorite on paper. However, he knows very well about the dangers and strengths of his opponent He’s only beaten him once in seven encounters. Further, Medvedev won their only match on clay in 2019 at Monte-Carlo.

Davidovich Fokina reaches first major quarterfinal, Zverev next

New women’s Grand Slam finalist on horizon

After the elimination of Serena Williams, there are no former Roland Garros finalists left in the bottom half of the draw. For the seventh straight time, there will be at least one new finalist in Paris.

On Sunday afternoon, both Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia and No. 33 seed Paula Badosa of Spain secured their first Grand Slam quarterfinal berths with their respective wins over Sorana Cirstea of Romania and No. 20 seed Marketa Vondrousova from the Czech Republic. Zidansek became the first woman from Slovenia to reach the final eight of a major.