“Five pistols”: Coach credits Zidansek’s variety for semi-final run at Roland-Garros

Tamara Zidansek is one of four surprising semi-finalists on the women’s side at Roland-Garros. Her coach talked about Zidansek’s improbable run this fortnight.

Tamara Zidansek at Roland-Garros in 2021

Tamara Zidansek is through to the semi-finals of the French Open, and it is performance that has pretty much come from out of nowhere. After all, Zidansek is ranked No 85 in the world. She had previously never advanced past the second round of any Grand Slam. In her three most recent tournaments prior to Roland-Garros, Zidansek lost in the second round in Madrid, the second round in Saint-Milo, and the first round in Rome.

But it has all come together for her in Paris. The 23-year-old defeated Bianca Andreescu (9-7 in the third set), Madison Brengle, Katerina Siniakova, and Sorana Cirstea before outlasting Paula Badosa 7-5, 4-6, 8-6 in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Her coach, Marjan Cuk, is not surprised.

“I cannot say that I [am] surprised,” Cuk said during a Wednesday press conference. “There was a wish, because I know she play really well on clay — that she have a game for clay. But that she [has] come (from) so far away (in the rankings), it’s (a) nice feeling. I was not expecting [that it would] happen, but I knew that she [has] a weapon. She [has] a possibility to [go] very far…in the tournament.”

NOT JUST ONE WEAPON

That one specific weapon is her forehand. However, Cuk insists that Zidansek’s all-round gave has made huge strides of late.

“Everyone is talking about her forehand,” he commented. “I agree, this is really big weapon. But (in) my opinion as a coach is that she [has] five pistols always. So she can play forehand, we improved a lot (her) backhand, she can do a drop-shot, (and) sometimes she goes to the net. (Her) variety of the serve is also quite much better than it was.

“So [these are] the weapons with which we do a tactic for (the) next opponent. It’s not just one weapon. This is how I like it.”

That next opponent is another surprising semi-finalist, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. In fact, the entire semi-final lineup is full of unexpected participants who had previously never advanced this far at a Grand Slam. The other matchup pits Maria Sakkari against Barbora Krejcikova.

In other words, this is a massive opportunity for Zidansek. She was already the first player from her country to reach a slam quarter-final. Now she is the first to reach a semi. The first to reach a final and even win a title may not be far away.

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