Paris: It was so close yet so far for Maria Sakkari. However, before she left the Roland Garros she had made history, becoming the first Greece woman to make it to the semifinals.
The tough well-built Sakkari fell to Barbora Krejcikova 7-5, 4-6, 9-7 in a riveting rollercoaster which went for over three hours. And it was the tiebreaker which decided the finalists.
“Yeah, I have to be deadly honest: I got stressed, starting thinking that I'm a point away from being in the final. I guess it's a rookie mistake,” said the Greek, turning her defeat into a positive.
“Good thing is that if I give myself a chance again to be in that position, then I know that I don't have to do it again. Just got a little bit stressed, got a little bit more passive on my game, especially in the big points. I think it's human emotions, but I think I'll learn from it.”
The 25-year-old spoke of her “pride” to claim a first Grand Slam semi-final and is urging herself to look forward despite the pain.
“Today's loss hurts a lot because I was so close. I was just one point away. But what can you do?”
And signed off with a note saying, “There are lots of positives and some negatives. I just have to embrace it and just move forward and see how am I going to do it the next time.”
It was a nerve-wrecking encounter wherein both the players saved match points, but at the end it was the Czech Republic Krejcikova to make the cut. She faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the final which will unfolds on Saturday with many new records to be shattered.
“I cannot believe it's actually happening,” Krejcikova said, visibly emotional in her post-match press conference. “I cannot believe it.”
The complicated scoreline only partially explains the complexity of the three-hour and 18-minute seesaw battle that will go down as the longest ever women’s semi-final at Roland-Garros, in terms of games played.
Both players displayed extraordinary mental toughness across the 84-minute deciding set that felt more like a roller coaster ride than a tennis match at times.
“I think the match was really up and down,” Krejcikova said. “I just told myself, 'Just fight, fight, fight until the last point'. I'm happy that I was really fighting.”
It has been a remarkable run for the Czech this spring.
Krejcikova, a former doubles world No.1, had never won a singles title until two weeks ago, when she claimed the trophy in Strasbourg, on the eve of Roland-Garros.
Now, riding a career-best 11-match tour-level winning streak, Krejcikova will aim to become the first woman to hoist the Coupe Suzanne-Lenglen after a saving match point in 16 years.
Still alive in the doubles draw, she could become the first woman to claim the singles and doubles titles in Paris since Mary Pierce in 2000.
Earlier in the day Tamara Zidansek lost to Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-3. “I think we all dream of making it big at Grand Slams. I played juniors Grand Slam first round and I was like completely overwhelmed,” admitted the Slovenian.
And for Russian, Pavlyuchenkova she will become the fourth Russian to win on Court Philippe-Chatrier, it she makes it past Krejcikova, after 2012 and 2014 winner Maria Sharapova, prior to Anastasia Myskina (2004) and Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009).
And it would be decided at the Roland Garros tomorrow (Saturday)