Sport Barbora Krejcikova ends Coco Gauff’s Roland Garros run
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Barbora Krejcikova ends Coco Gauff’s Roland Garros run

Determined teen Coco Gauff fell short in her comeback bid against Cezch Barbora Krejcikova. Photo: AP
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Barbora Krejcikova has become the latest surprise French Open semi-finalist, the doubles specialist finally putting an end to teenage star Coco Gauff’s never-say-die challenge at Roland Garros.

Krejcikova, who’s won five grand slam doubles crowns but had never previously been beyond the second round in singles, worked wonders to save five set points in a mistake-riddled opener before advancing 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 on Wednesday.

The 17-year-old American Gauff was cutting a dispirited and angry figure, smashing her racquet into the Court Philippe Chatrier clay when her game completely unravelled at 4-0 down in the second set at the hands of the doughty Czech.

But the teenager rallied magnificently from 5-1, 40-love down with Krejcikova serving for the match.

Gauff saved five match points in all as she fought back to 5-3 but Krejcikova, who was ranked outside the top 100 a year ago, finally prevailed after an hour and 50 minutes.

The 25-year-old, who admitted she was left crying with nerves before her previous round victory over Sloane Stephens as she questioned whether she could play in such esteemed company, found that she really does belong at the highest level.

She had to fight with herself again, veering between outright fragility with her wayward ball tosses and serving but also delivering winning forehands that twice saved her at set point down in the tiebreak.

“I certainly never imagined I’d be standing here one day. This is something I never dreamed of,” Krejcikova, the world No.33 told the crowd.

Sakkari accounts for defending champ

Greece’s Maria Sakkari en route to knocking out champion Iga Swiatek at the French Open. Photo: EPA

Later, Maria Sakkari pulled off the biggest sensation of a surprise-littered French Open women’s draw by knocking out the ailing champion Iga Swiatek at Roland Garros.

Continuing Greece’s dream slam following compatriot Stefanos Tsitsipas’s march into the men’s semis, Sakkari was outstanding in her 6-4 6-4 triumph over the Polish teenager to also power into the last four.

After being overpowered in the opening set, the champion and overwhelming tournament favourite Swiatek, clearly nowhere near her best, needed a medical timeout at 2-0 down in the second.

Struggling for her usual timing and with her forehand betraying her, Swiatek returned from off-court treatment with a heavily strapped right thigh, hoping to halt the domination of the powerful 25-year-old.

But still seemingly struggling with her rotation, Swiatek was unable to make any inroads into the Greek’s serve, which had held firm after being broken first time out in the opening set.

After Krejcikova’s earlier win on Wednesday, it meant, remarkably, that all four women who’ve made Thursday’s last four will be in their maiden grand slam semi-finals.

So an unlikely new champion will be crowned on Saturday.

Amid the unlikely quartet, Slovenian world No.85 Tamara Zidansek will play Russian 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova while Krejcikova, a five-time grand slam doubles winner who’d never been beyond the fourth round in the singles, will take on 17th seed Sakkari.

-AAP