Moment of victory for Maria Sakkari

Paris (AFP) - Maria Sakkari defeated defending champion Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-4 to become the first Greek woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final at the French Open on Wednesday.

The world number 18 will face unseeded Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic for a place in the final after seeing off Swiatek who had required a medical timeout early in the second set.

Thursday’s other semi-final sees Russian 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova tackle unseeded Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia.

“I am speechless. It is a dream coming true. I don’t know, it is a very nice feeling and I could not have done it without my team and their support,” said the 25-year-old.

“We have a long way to go but we made a huge step today.

“I enjoyed myself and sat down and said to myself it is an important match but to enjoy it. I had to enjoy it.”

For only the second time in the Open era, there are four first-time Grand Slam semi-finalists in women’s singles, after the 1978 Australian Open.

Furthermore, for just the fifth time in Roland Garros history, a player seeded outside the top 10 will lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen on Saturday.

Sakkari is the second Greek in the semi-finals of the singles at this year’s French Open after Stefanos Tsitsipas made the men’s last four on Tuesday.

Swiatek had carved a break for 2-0 in the first set before the Greek quickly levelled, breaking again for a 5-4 lead.

Sakkari confidently pocketed the opener, ending the champion’s run of 22 straight sets won at the tournament.

When Swiatek slipped 0-2 down in the second set, the Pole left the court for a medical timeout, returning with her right thigh tightly strapped.

Swiatek had to battle to avoid going a double break down in the fifth game but eventually succumbed in the 10th.

Sakkari reaped the reward for her all-out attacking game with five aces and 26 winners.