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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 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…

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 confront Czech Barbora Krejcikova from the 2021 French Open sem-finals Thursday at Paris. Photo by Caroline Blumberg/EPA-EFE

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

The semifinal matches to 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 me.

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

No American guys advanced past the third round. Cori”Coco” Gauff was the last American to depart. She dropped in the quarterfinals.

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

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

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

She won all her last four matches in straight sets.

“I just really appreciate that I’m here,” Krejcikova told me Wednesday. “I appreciate that I’m playing tennis, doing what I love to do and playing all of these amazing athletes.”

Unseeded Slovenian Tamara Zidansek and Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will meet in the first women’s semifinal at 9 a.m. EDT Thursday at 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 conduct using a first-round win over American Christina McHale. She subsequently overcome Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, Belarusians Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka and Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina to reach the semifinals.

Sakkari, rated No. 18, is the only player left in the tournament with a current ranking within the WTA’s Top 30. She is a heavy favorite to advance into the final.

Krejcikova includes a 2-0 career record against Sakkari. Zidansek and Pavlyuchenkova will fulfill for the first time. Sakkari is 1-1 against Pavlyuchenkova and hasn’t faced Zidansek.

Tsitsipas has tough test

Tsitsipas, 22, conquer world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in straight sets Tuesday to advance to his fourth Grand Slam semifinal. Like Sakkari, he lacks a Grand Slam title. His road to a first major title is still packed 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 anticipated to be a leading contender at Roland Garros. He lost to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of this 2020 French Open.

Tsitsipas overcome France’s Jeremy Chardy in straight sets to start

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