In a wild turn of events, there is no Serena Williams or Li Na through to the semifinals of the 2014 French Open. A bracket full of upsets has produced three underdogs and a lone familiar face as the tournament draws to a close.
After a three-hour rain delay on Day 11, the quarterfinals kept with the overarching theme of surprises.
As a result, one side of the semifinals bracket features a showdown between Simona Halep and Andrea Petkovic, the former of whom will appear in her first Grand Slam semifinal match.
The other duel features one Maria Sharapova—who fell to Williams in last year's final—against the resurgent Eugenie Bouchard. Bouchard enters fresh off an upset victory over Carla Suarez Navarro.
Bank of the West Cl helped to illustrate the impending showdowns:
While most of the names are not familiar, the semifinals will prove to be anything but boring affairs.
Where: Roland Garros, Paris, France
When: Thursday, June 5, at 9 a.m. ET
Watch: Tennis Channel, ESPN 2 (9 a.m. - 2 p.m. ET), NBC (11 a.m. - 2 p.m. ET)
Note: Full schedule available at Roland Garros' official website.
Simona Halep (4) vs. Andrea Petkovic (28)
As the highest seed left in the draw, the Romanian fourth seed Halep did much to make fans believers on Wednesday with a smooth 6-2, 6-2 victory over former French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
While Halep's first-career semifinals at a major event is a real treat for what is a down draw, the real story is the comeback journey of Petkovic.
After most of 2012 and the early portion of 2013 were derailed by injuries, Petkovic is back in full force and says her triumphant upset over No. 10 seed Sara Errani is something to build on, as captured by Roland Garros' Twitter account:
Yes, being down 2-0 in the first set before winning 10 of 12 games after the fact en route to a 6-2, 6-2 victory has a way of doing that for any player—especially one who has been ranked No. 9 in the world at one point.
So who holds the advantage? Halep holds a 2-1 head-to-head career advantage over her opponent and has not dropped a game yet in Paris, but Petkovic is fully healthy and the explosive player of old that can play with anyone.
Both have the tools to advance to the final, so something has to give. Weather permitting, of course.
Maria Sharapova (7) vs. Eugenie Bouchard (18)
In a very under-the-radar manner, this matchup may produce some bad blood and quite an entertaining experience all around.
While not an overly familiar name, the 20-year-old Bouchard has now reached the semifinals at both of this year's Grand Slam events. So no, her being in the final four in Paris is not a shock.
Upon her arrival, Bouchard made it crystal clear she will show no mercy to someone she looked up to as a child, as captured by Chris Chase of USA Today:
We’re not friends, so there is that. Of course as a child I looked up to her and I remember watching her in the finals of Wimbledon and, you know, thought what she was doing was so cool and I wanted to do the same thing. We’re in the semis of a Grand Slam, so I’m going to respect her but not put her too high on a pedestal and really just battle.
Once the seemingly destined semifinal bout was cemented, Joyce Eng of TV Guide provided a chilling picture of the two to add context:
The path to the matchup was not as simple for the veteran Sharapova, but she rallied to upend Garbine Muguruza, 1-6, 7-5, 6-1.
While the storylines run deep in this potential passing-of-the-torch moment, Sharapova holds a historical edge 2-0 against Bouchard and is the one who bounced the Canadian from last year's spectacle in Paris in the second round.
A third straight appearance in the finals at the French Open seems likely for Sharapova, but Bouchard carries momentum into the match as well, and for what it's worth, she has been studying her opponent for a heck of a lot longer.