Bacsinszky, Ostapenko pull off upsets, Rain postpones men's QFs

Timea BacksinszkyOn a rain-marred French day many missed seeing Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in action, fighting for a place in the semi-finals of the Roland Garros but the four women playing their quarter-final matches more than made up for it. The two rain interrupted matches had competitiveness and determination on full display as the players fought tooth and nail in an attempt to go one step further on the path of winning their first Slam.

For the first quarter final, Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic took on Swiss Timea Bacsinszky under cloudy and windy conditions at the Phillipe Chatrier, with the crowd cheering on their home girl. She however looked a wee bit shaky as she surrendered her service game, the first game of the match to her opponent. Although she gradually found her footing in the midst of the fiery gusts and broke back, it clearly wasn’t enough as the Swiss powerhouse took the first set 6-4. At 1-1 and a break point down for the thirteenth seed, the heavens opened up effectively putting a halt to the steamrolling Bacsinszky. When play resumed, Mladenovic was able to get momentum back on her side, opening up a 3-1 lead, to raise some hopes of securing her first semi-final spot in a Major. The temporary resurgence did not last long as the 27-year old reeled off four games in a row, earning the chance to serve for the match with scores at 5-4.

Mladenovic brought up a break point on the 30th seed’s serve to try and stay in the tournament but could not convert it as some fearless tennis played by the Swiss found the Frenchwoman out of her depth and as her volley went wide on the first match point she faced, Timea Bacsinszky made her place in the last four of the Roland Garros for the second time in three attempts. Her pristine form, which has caused her to drop just one set en route, will give her the favourite tag as she clashes with the teenager Jelena Ostapenko for an opportunity to play in her maiden Grand Slam final.

19-year-old Ostapenko on the other hand pulled off a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 upset over 11th seed and former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki at the Suzanne Lenglen. The Latvian, like Mladenovic, struggled with the wind at the beginning, trailing the Dane 0-5 in the first set before she regrouped and pulled off two consecutive breaks and holds to take the score to 4-5 before Wozniacki finally managed to close it out 6-4. By then, the teenager had found her depth and accuracy and had begun to pester her much experienced opponent with some powerful groundstrokes that were landing tantalizingly close to the sidelines. Her approach shots were seldom missing their mark as she hit a good number of winners coming forward. It was the count of her unforced errors matching the number of winners that primarily contributed to Wozniacki getting on to the scoreboard, otherwise it would have been a near perfect match from the young kid. In the third set, Ostapenko’s adversary started developing large chinks in her armoury; the Dane never could recover from getting broken at 2-2 and as the errors crept up, she lost her way completely looking helpless against the nineteen year old’s crunching winners. The unseeded player wrapped up the quarter final on her first match point hence moving into her first Grand Slam semi.

Interestingly, Ostapenko and Bacsinszky, both have birthdays on the day of their big match; sadly only one will receive the biggest present of their lives! Meanwhile Wednesday is shaping up to be a treat for fans as the likes of Nadal, Murray, Djokovic and Wawrinka along with Halep and Pliskova lineup to take Centre Court and Suzanne Lenglen to present us with back to back blockbuster clashes that will be sure to make  any tennis enthusiast’s day.