PARIS: Unseeded Danielle Collins battled past Tunisian Ons Jabeur 6-4 4-6 6-4 yesterday to reach the French Open quarter-finals for the first time in her career. World number 57 Collins raised her level after the opening nine games of the first set went with serve, when the American broke to edge ahead in the contest as Jabeur made an unforced error from the back of the court.
The big-hitting 26-year-old then raced to a 3-0 lead in the second set, showing the craftiness more commonly associated with her opponent to pull off a superb drop shot in the second game as Jabeur appeared to wilt on Court Philippe Chatrier. But the Tunisian, who became the first Arab woman to reach the Roland Garros last 16 by beating eighth seed Aryna Sabalenka, regained focus to win the next five games in a row before dragging the match into a deciding set.
In complete contrast to the opener, both players traded breaks freely at the start of the decider before Collins came back from 0-40 to hold for 3-2 and staved off a late comeback attempt to seal the win. “I felt I was in the driver’s seat until 6-4 3-0… she’s tricky, served really well and hit some drop shots I wasn’t expecting,” Collins said. “I had to try and dig it out. It broke my rhythm. I lost my way there a little bit, lost some of the shots I’d been hitting earlier and I needed to try and stay positive.”
Collins, who was without a coach at the US Open where she lost her opener, said she was reaping the rewards of working with Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. “Nico and I started working with each other last week, it’s all new,” added Collins, who beat 2016 winner Garbine Muguruza in the third round. “… Luckily I found someone with an incredible career… It’s a special treat to be able to work with him.” She takes on Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin next, after the fourth-seeded American beat Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro 2-6 6-2 6-1 in their last 16 encounter on Monday.
World 131 Podoroska
Meanwhile, Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska became the first qualifier in the Open era yesterday to reach the women’s semi-finals at Roland Garros after stunning third seed Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-4. World number 131 Podoroska had never won a Grand Slam main draw match before the tournament and is the first Argentine woman to reach the last four of a major since Paola Suarez in Paris in 2004. The 23-year-old Podoroska will play Polish teenager Iga Swiatek or Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan for a place in Saturday’s final. “It’s a little bit difficult for me to speak now after the match,” said Podoroska, whose only other Grand Slam appearance came at the 2016 US Open.
“We did a very good job with my coaches during the (coronavirus) quarantine. I’ve been training a lot with all of my team I think that’s why I’m here today.” It was the first time Podoroska had even faced a player inside the top 20, having started the year ranked a lowly 255. Svitolina suffered a third quarter-final defeat in as many attempts at Roland Garros, having also lost at this stage in 2015 and 2017. The Ukrainian hit just eight winners-the same number of times she dropped serve-as she slumped to her worst defeat at a major in terms of her opponent’s ranking.
In another development, French prosecutors said yesterday they have opened an investigation into alleged match-fixing in a French Open women’s doubles encounter. The probe concerns the first-round match on September 30 between Romanian pair Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig and Yana Sizikova of Russia playing with US player Madison Brengle, according to French sports daily L’Equipe and German newspaper Die Welt.
The game in question is the fifth of the second set won by love by the Romanian duo after Sizikova served two double faults. L’Equipe reported large sums of money were bet on the Romanians winning the game in question and that the wagers were placed in several countries through Paris-based gambling outlets. Prosecutors said they were probing alleged “fraud in an organized group” and “active and passive corruption in sport”.
Djokovic suffers deja vu
For the second Grand Slam in succession a line judge was in the firing line from Novak Djokovic but on Monday it did not cost the Serb anything more than an anxious moment. Top seed Djokovic lunged to make a service return in the eighth game against Karen Khachanov in their French Open fourth-round clash and the ball ricocheted off his frame and straight into the head of a male line judge.
It brought back instant memories of the world number one’s dramatic default at the US Open-also in a fourth round match against Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta. On that occasion Djokovic swiped a ball behind him towards the backstop after losing a point and inadvertently hit a female line judge in the throat-leaving tournament officials no choice but to disqualify him. This time there was no blame attached to him as the ball had been in play, but he said it had been a worrying moment all the same.
“My gosh, it was very awkward déjà vu,” Djokovic said after his 6-4 6-3 6-3 defeat of Khachanov that put him in his 47th Grand Slam quarter-final. “I’m actually trying to find the lines person and see if he’s okay because I saw he had a little bit of a bruise, like redness, in that place in the head where the ball hit him. “I hope he’s fine. He definitely dealt with it in a very strong and brave way. But it was a hit because I was very close. Obviously because of what happened in New York, people… are going to make the story out of this. – Agencies