First set: Zidansek 5-4 Badosa* (*denotes next server) Zidansek quickly moves to 40-15, but an unstoppable cross-court backhand gets Badosa back in the game. A rare unforced error takes us to deuce, where we are treated to the match’s best rally so far – won by Zidansek with a double-handed, cross-court backhand that clips the line! Zidansek leads for the first time.
First set: *Zidansek 4-4 Badosa (*denotes next server) New balls on the Badosa serve, and Zidansek fires her seventh forehand winner. Badosa digs in, applying plenty of side spin to her first serve, but Zidansek secures the break with a couple of zipping volleys that her opponent can’t handle. It’s the sixth break of serve in eight games!
First set: Zidansek 3-4 Badosa* (*denotes next server) Badosa turns up the pace and carves out another break point, which she takes with a crunching forehand that Zidansek can’t retrieve.
This isn’t the freestyle poetry, by the way. Or is it?
First set: *Zidansek 3-3 Badosa (*denotes next server) Not any more! Quite a remarkable change of momentum in this first set; Badosa has lost her rhythm while Zidansek is timing her shots perfectly. She breaks back again, and we are back on serve.
First set: Zidansek 2-3 Badosa* (*denotes next server) Zidansek gets her first service hold, largely steering clear of Badosa’s fearsome forehand and stepping in behind her serve. She’s fought her way back into this, but Badosa still has a break.
First set: *Zidansek 1-3 Badosa (*denotes next server) She’s finding it tough on her own serve, so Zidansek senses the need to get after her opponent. An aggressive return game pays off, bringing up three break points, and she only needs one as Badosa goes long.
First set: Zidansek 0-3 Badosa* (*denotes next server) Zidansek can’t really match Badosa for pace early on, so has to find a different approach, mixing up her angles nicely. The pressure tells at deuce, Zidansek netting a forehand and then getting quickly overpowered in a rally. It’s been a flying start from Paula Badosa.
First set: *Zidansek 0-2 Badosa (*denotes next server) Badosa has started really well here, cruising through her first service game and looking much more comfortable than her opponent. Early days, though.
First set: Zidansek 0-1 Badosa* (*denotes next server) Zidansek makes a nervy start on serve and presents Badosa with an early break point. She doesn’t take the first chance but a firm forehand sets up another, taken with a backhand down the line.
The players are out and warming up on a sunny Court Philippe-Chatrier. Carlos Ramos is the umpire; you might remember him from the 2018 US Open final. In other news, it appears that due to some pretty widespread technical problems, you’re probably not able to read this blog just now. At last, a chance to try out some of my freestyle poetry …
The first women’s quarter-final gets under way shortly. Let’s learn a little more about the two players involved.
Tamara Zidansek is the world No 85, and the true outsider of the four. The Slovenian had never been past the second round at a slam before this run, which began with a first-round comeback win over the No 6 seed, Bianca Andreescu. Zidansek has played in and lost two WTA Tour finals, both on clay, most recently in Colombia last month.
Her opponent, Paula Badosa, was promoted to No 33 seed when Alison Riske withdrew. The former junior French Open champion is a rising star on clay, beating Sloane Stephens and Jelena Ostapenko on a run to the fourth round here in 2020. While her path to the quarters was eased by Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal, the Spaniard still had to overcome former finalist Marketa Vondrousova to reach the last eight.
The quarter-finals begin at Roland Garros and while the biggest names feature later today or tomorrow, we start with a fascinating four-way battle to reach new heights. In the bottom half of the women’s draw, four players remain: Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek, Spain’s Paula Badosa, Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina and her Russian doubles partner, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Of the quartet, only Pavlyuchenkova has reached a grand slam quarter-final before, and now one of them will be in the final on Saturday. Experience arguably makes Pavlyuchenkova the favourite but in truth, all four women will fancy their chances. Zidansek and Badosa are first up on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Later on, Alexander Zverev looks to continue his impressive form against the only man outside the top 10 seeds to reach the quarters: Spanish youngster Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. In the evening session Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on Daniil Medvedev, the No 2 seed who had never won a match here before this year.