Beatriz Haddad Maia yesterday became the first Brazilian woman to make a Grand Slam semi-final in 55 years after beating Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur at Roland Garros.
World No. 14 Haddad Maia came through against seventh-ranked Jabeur 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-1.
The 27-year-old left-hander follows in the footsteps of seven-time major winner Maria Bueno who was the last Brazilian woman in the semi-finals of a major at the US Open 55 years ago.
Bueno, who passed away in 2018, made the last four in Paris in 1966 before the advent of the Open era.
“Ons is not easy to play against, you have to be patient, but I believed in my body and tried to keep my rhythm,” Haddad Maia said.
Jabeur, the runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, was playing in her first quarter-final at Roland Garros, while Haddad Maia had never got past the second round of a Grand Slam before.
Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz are to square off in a blockbuster semi-final after winning their matches on Tuesday.
Djokovic, chasing a third crown at Roland Garros and a record 23rd men’s Grand Slam singles title, recovered from dropping his first set of the tournament to defeat 11th seed Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6 (7/0), 6-2, 6-4.
The 36-year-old Serb is in his 12th Roland Garros semi-final — his 45th at the majors — and faces Alcaraz for a place in the final after the world No. 1 thrashed 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets.
“That’s the match that a lot of people want to see. It’s definitely the biggest challenge for me so far in the tournament,” said Djokovic, who lost his only meeting with Alcaraz in Madrid last year. “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. He’s definitely a guy to beat here. I’m looking forward to that.”
Alcaraz once more showed why he is the favourite with a convincing 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) victory over Greek fifth seed Tsitsipas in the night session, easily navigating his stiffest challenge to date.
The 20-year-old Spaniard has won all five meetings with Tsitsipas and becomes the youngest Roland Garros semi-finalist since Djokovic in 2007.
The war in Ukraine came into sharp focus again as Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka ended Elina Svitolina’s surprise run in the highest-profile match between two players whose countries are on opposing sides of the conflict.
Sabalenka won a politically charged encounter 6-4, 6-4 to extend her Grand Slam winning streak to 12 matches following her first major title at the Australian Open in January.
Svitolina was booed by the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier after refusing to shake hands, a common practice now in the sport when a Ukrainian player meets a Russian or Belarusian opponent.
After boycotting her past two news conferences, Sabalenka insisted she is not a supporter of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, a key military ally of Moscow.
“I’m not supporting the war, meaning I don’t support Lukashenko right now,” said the world No. 2, who has been urged by Ukrainian rivals to use her platform to individually stand up against the war.
“I don’t want my country to be involved in any conflict. I said it many times. You have my position. You have my answer,” she said. “I don’t want sport to be involved in politics, because I’m just a 25-year-old tennis player.”
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