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Paris: On Sunday, Tamara Zidanchik made history by becoming the first Slovenian to reach the quarter-finals of a major tennis tournament, by defeating Romanian Sorana Cristea 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 in the fourth round of the French Open at Roland Garros.
The 23-year-old, ranked 85th in the world, has never gone further than the second round in any of the four Grand Slams, but she achieved the feat at Roland Garros, hoping to continue her surprises.
Zidanchik will meet in the quarter-finals of Spain’s Paula Padusa, who also reaches this stage for the first time, by defeating Czech Marketa Vondrosova, runner-up in 2019 in three sets, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
“For me, the key was to start really believing that I could beat the elite players. To believe that I was better than them and that I belonged among them,” said the Slovenian, who started her current career at Roland Garros with a surprise after eliminating seventh-seeded Canadian Bianca Andreescu and Flushing Meadows champion.
Before she eliminated Andreescu in the first round, Zidancic had never beaten one of the women’s top ten players in the WTA rankings.
After the Australian top-seeded Ashleigh Barty and Japan’s Naomi Osaka withdrew, and Arina Sabalenka of Belarus, who lost in the third round, the possibility of the French championship witnessing a sudden crowning of the women’s title increased.
Padusa, 23, may be the surprise, as the former champion of Roland Garros in the women’s category is considered the best performer on dirt courts this season, with 17 wins against only two defeats in a series that included her victory in the Belgrade tournament on the eve of the French championship.
The 31st Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova ended the 15th attempt of Belarusian Victoria Azarenka to reach the quarter-finals of Roland Garros for the first time since 2013, by defeating the Australian Open champion in 2012 and 2013 5-7 6-3 6-2.
In her second quarter-final at Roland Garros, after 2011, and the seventh in the Grand Slam, Pavlyuchenkova will meet seventh-seeded American Serena Williams, who is looking for her 24th title in the Grand Slam or the 21st Kazakh Elena Rybakina.