French Open: Second seed Aryna Sabalenka stunned by 17 year old

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka was sent crashing out of the French Open after a shock 6-7(5) 6-4 6-4 quarter-final loss to Russian teenager Mirra Andreeva on Wednesday after being hampered by illness throughout the contest.

Victory made the 17-year-old Andreeva, who will face 12th seed Jasmine Paolini in the last four, the youngest Grand Slam semi-finalist since a 16-year-old Martina Hingis at the US Open in 1997 and the youngest at Roland Garros since the Swiss great that same year.

It also snapped Australian Open champion Sabalenka’s 11-match winning run at the Grand Slams this year and ensured her earliest defeat at the majors since the French Open in 2022.

“I kind of see the game and just play wherever I want. I don’t even have a plan,” Andreeva, who is coached by Conchita Martinez, said of her strategy.

“Me and my coach had a plan today, but I didn’t remember anything. I just tried to play as I feel… Having her by my side is an amazing advantage for me.

“I’m really happy that she still works with me.”

Having won her last two meetings with Andreeva comfortably, Belarusian Sabalenka wasted little time getting to work as the Australian Open champion cranked up her big shots to go ahead 3-1 before her serve came undone in the opening set.

A suddenly out-of-sorts Sabalenka called the trainer out and was given medication for illness after Andreeva cruised to a 5-3 lead and sensed a real opportunity to cause a massive upset on the biggest stage.

Russia's Mirra Andreeva celebrates after winning against Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka in the women's singles quarter final match at the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex in Paris, 2024.

But Sabalenka regrouped to force a tiebreak where the 2023 semi-finalist seized the advantage with a stunning drop shot on set-point, but appeared to struggle physically again at the start of the next set.

She got a time violation for taking too long between games as she crouched to her knees to recover at one point, and looked agitated at 4-2 down, eventually allowing her Russian opponent to take the match into a decider.

After an exchange of breaks, the pair were locked in a high-quality battle that thrilled fans on Court Philippe Chatrier but Andreeva held her own and broke Sabalenka in the final game to complete her biggest win on her second match point.

“I even forgot what the score was. I tried not to focus on that. When it was the second match point for me, I was trying to imagine I’m saving a break point. I tried to play brave,” Andreeva said.

Earlier, Italian Paolini stunned fourth seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in a back-and-forth contest to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.

Top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland will play third seed Coco Gauff of the United States in the other semi-final.


According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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