Roland Garros Day 11: Djokovic survives first test, Kenin to face Kvitova

  • Matt Trollope

World No.1 Novak Djokovic dropped his first set of the tournament against Pablo Carreno Busta and overcame injury to seal a place in his 10th Roland Garros semifinal.

There he will face fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who avenged his recent Hamburg final defeat by Andrey Rublev, eliminating the Russian in straight sets to reach the last four in Paris for the first time.

Earlier, Sofia Kenin and Petra Kvitova booked a heavyweight clash between Grand Slam champions after quarterfinal victories on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Djokovic, Tsitsipas set up semifinal

After dropping just 25 games in his first four matches combined in Paris, Djokovic struggled on Wednesday, suffering with left arm and neck issues.

Carreno Busta took the first set and hung with the Serb in the fourth set, earning multiple break point opportunities which, if converted, could have extended the match further.

DRAW: French Open men's singles

But he could not subdue the top seed, who improved his winning streak to 10 with a 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4 victory against the 17th seed under lights on Chatrier. 

Djokovic will next meet Tsitsipas, who ended Rublev’s nine-match win streak thanks to a 7-5 6-2 6-3 triumph.

Since losing the Hamburg final to the Russian less than two weeks ago, and then falling behind two-sets-to-love against Jaume Munar in the first round in Paris, Tsitsipas has been unstoppable.

The Greek 22-year-old has won 15 consecutive sets to reach a second Grand Slam semifinal, after advancing to the same stage at AO 2019. 

Kenin, Kvitova peaking at business end

Reigning Australian Open champion Kenin continued her excellent season at the majors with a 6-4 4-6 6-0 win over fellow American Danielle Collins. 

As in her previous win over Fiona Ferro, Kenin elevated her game in the final set, hitting 14 winners to just five unforced errors and feasting on the second serve of Collins, who had to leave the court for treatment on what appeared to be an abdominal issue when trailing 4-0.

Kvitova was similarly aggressive, her devastating ball-striking overwhelming German Laura Siegemund in the first set.

The two-time Wimbledon champion came off that level slightly in the second set while Siegemund increasingly struggled with a lower back injury; Kvitova went on to post a 6-3 6-3 victory to return to the Roland Garros semifinals for the first time since 2012.

Kvitova leads the head-to-head 2-0 against Kenin, beating the 21-year-old in Madrid last year and Miami in 2018.

Stat of the day

Victories for Kenin and Kvitova on Wednesday restored some order to the women’s draw in Paris, which has been rocked by a series of surprise results and the emergence of several previously-unheralded players.

Incredibly, when the fourth-seeded Kenin and No.7 seed Kvitova clash in the semifinals, it will be just the fourth match-up between seeded women all fortnight.

DRAW: French Open women's singles

The only other matches featuring two seeds were the third-round bouts between Simona Halep [1] and Amanda Anisimova [25], Elina Svitolina [3] and Ekaterina Alexandrova [27], and Aryna Sabalenka [8] and Ons Jabeur [30].

Swiatek soars in doubles, wheelchair events begin

On her day off between her singles quarterfinal victory and upcoming semifinal against Nadia Podoroska, Iga Swiatek combined with Nicole Melichar to reach the doubles semifinals.

Swiatek and Melichar beat American duo Asia Muhammad and Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-4 to reach the semifinals, where they will meet Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawczyk.

Swiztek remains on track to become the first player since Mary Pierce since 2000 to win both the singles and double tournaments in the same year in Paris. 

Meanwhile, the wheelchair men’s and women’s singles tournaments commenced at Roland Garros, with reigning Australian and US Open champion Shingo Kunieda beginning with a win and recent US Open women’s winner Diede de Groot triumphing in three sets.

Kunieda and De Groot advance to the semifinals, as did second seed Gustavo Fernandez, Brit Alfie Hewett, and AO 2020 champion Yui Kamiji.

Quotes of the day

“I don't want to take away anything from his good performance. Especially for set and a half he was the better player, dictating the play. I was very neutral. I didn't have much of energy really happening in my legs or movement or game itself. It took me about set and a half to really get comfortable and start really playing the way I should.”
- Novak Djokovic 

“I think I can learn from the previous one. I'm chasing something spectacular.”
- Stefanos Tsitsipas, on the lessons he can take from his AO 2019 semifinal appearance into his Roland Garros semifinal against Novak Djokovic.

“Winning, definitely. That's my answer. I mean, there are so many other words I can think of, but, yeah, winning is definitely the one. It's something that I really love, and I love winning more than anything.”
- Sofia Kenin, when asked to describe in one word what she most loves about tennis.

“I'm really glad in the last couple of years I improved my results in the Grand Slams, too. So definitely I'm proud of this, and I hope this journey, it's not end yet.”
- Petra Kvitova, who is yet to drop a set in five match wins at Roland Garros in 2020.

“I can be only grateful for the last couple of weeks. All the matches that have been here, that I did one more quarterfinal, especially being almost out of the tournament in the first round. I can be only grateful.”
- Andrey Rublev

Tweet of the day

Day 12: Ones to watch

Women’s semifinal action takes centre stage on Chatrier with Swiatek facing Argentinian qualifier Podoroska before Kenin and Kvitova clash.

It represents an enormous opportunity for Swiatek and Podoroska, who will meet for the first time for the chance to reach their first ever Grand Slam final.

ORDER OF PLAY: French Open Day 12

Court Suzanne Lenglen features men’s doubles semifinal action, with No.1 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, and defending champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, still on track to meet in the final.

Courts 7 and 9 are the site of wheelchair action, with quad singles action kicking off on Thursday – including a US Open final rematch between world No.1 Dylan Alcott and wildcard Sam Schroder.