/ Tennis

Andrea Petkovic and Simona Halep progress to semi-finals at French Open

Updated: Wednesday, 04 Jun 2014 21:57 | Comments

Andrea Petkovic took just over an hour to beat Sara Errani
Andrea Petkovic took just over an hour to beat Sara Errani

The French Open will have a first-time grand slam finalist after Simona Halep and Andrea Petkovic won their semi-finals in dominant fashion.

After nearly three hours were lost to rain, fourth seed Halep defeated 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-2 6-2 and Petkovic won by the same scoreline against 2012 finalist Sara Errani.

The semi-finals will also be a new experience for both women, neither of whom had ever won a last-eight match at a slam before.

Halep's presence in the last four is not surprising given her remarkable rise over the past year, which began after she lost in the first round at Roland Garros 12 months ago.

Seven titles later the Romanian is the world number four and has not come close to dropping a set on her way to the semi-finals.

Halep said of her performance against Kuznetsova: "It was a perfect day for me. I played really well. I was very aggressive. I played very fast.

"It was a good match, and I'm really happy that now I can play semi-finals in Paris."

The 22-year-old only reached her first grand slam quarter-final at the Australian Open in January and rather froze against eventual finalist Dominika Cibulkova.

This time it was a very different story, Halep saying: "At that moment I didn't know how to manage the emotions before the quarter-finals.

"I was very nervous on court and I couldn't play my game. I couldn't run for the balls and I couldn't hit.

"Now I was very relaxed. It was a tough day because I had to wait a few hours to play because of the rain, but still it was a perfect day."

Petkovic is much more of a surprise name in the last four.

The German, ranked 27th, had enjoyed the luck of the draw with four unseeded opponents in her first four rounds but showed she more than deserved to be in the quarter-finals with a terrific performance against Errani.

Petkovic took a particular liking to Errani's soft serve and smashed 26 winners in 16 games.

Petkovic was a top-10 player in 2011, having reached three of four grand slam quarter-finals, but a succession of injuries over the next two seasons sent her ranking plummeting outside the top 150.

When she lost in the second round of qualifying in Paris last year she thought about quitting the sport, and she still feels her best form is some way away.

Petkovic was nerveless clinching victory, and she said: "I have to say today I was in a real zone. I didn't think at all. I was just focused on what I had to do. Mentally I was really good.

"When it was 6-2 5-2, I sat down and I said to myself, 'Okay, Andrea, are you going to get tight now'? And I paused and I said, 'No, not now'."

A look of delight spread across Petkovic's face when Errani's final shot dropped out and the German kissed her racquet in celebration.

While Petkovic is delighted at her achievement, the mental scar of her injury troubles remains.

"Pressure comes hand in hand with this excitement," she said. "The thing with my injuries was that it now has a nail of doubt every time when I play well.

"I'm just so scared that it might slip away again because I was the happiest when I was in the top 10 and was one of the top players, and then it was just taken away from me.

"I'm very cautious with wins and with happy moments and trying just to stay with both feet on the ground and enjoy the moments when they are there."

Halep and Petkovic will be back on court on Thursday afternoon after the opening semi-final between title favourite Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard.

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