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French Open: Andreeva becomes youngest Grand Slam semifinalist in 27 years

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French Open: Andreeva becomes youngest Grand Slam semifinalist in 27 years

Paris, June 6 (IANS) Teenager Mirra Andreeva made history at the French Open on Wednesday, upsetting Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka to become, at 17-year-old, the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist in nearly three decades.

Andreeva returned strongly after losing the first set to defeat Sabalenka 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4 defeat in the women’s singles quarterfinals to clash with another first-time semifinalist Jasmine Paolini of Italy.

Andreeva battled past an ailing Sabalenka, who received a first-set medical timeout and subsequent other attention later in the match that lasted 2 hours and 29 minutes at Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Andreeva ultimately beat the World No.2 Sabalenka for the first time in three career meetings on one of the game’s biggest stages. Andreeva is the youngest woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since former No. 1 Martina Hingis, who was 16 when she reached both the Roland Garros and US Open semifinals in 1997.

Sabalenka hadn’t lost a set in a Grand Slam match this year before facing Andreeva. She had lost more than four games only two of the 22 sets in that 11-match streak.

But Andreeva became the youngest player to defeat either the World No.1 or No.2 in a Grand Slam event since a then-16-year-old Jelena Dokic stunned Hingis in the first round at Wimbledon in 1999. Andreeva is the youngest to do it at the French Open since Monica Seles, also 16, defeated Stefanie Graf in Paris’ 1990 final.

Sabalenka started by breaking Andreeva’s serve in the second game of the first set but the teenager broke back immediately to make it 1-2. However, Sabalenka effected a second break of serve in the third game to 3-1 up but Andreeva broke back again to make it 2-3. She held her serve to make it 3-3. Sabalenka, however, won the tie-breaker 7-5, hitting three winners in a row.

In the second set, the two players again traded breaks on a couple of occasions before Andreeva took a crucial break in the 10th game, unleashing some backhand forcing shots as she won the set 6-4.

After the games went with serve till 2-2, Sabalenka broke serve only to have Andreeva return the favour in the next game. Andreeva again took the all-important break in the 10th game with a fine backhand winner to seal victory in the match.


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