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‘I hope famous people come and watch me!’: Maria Sakkari breaking new ground

It was the win of her life for the Greek star when she beat Iga Swiatek to reach the Roland-Garros semi-finals — but she has absolute confidence she can do even better.

Maria Sakkari after winning the quarter-final at Roland-Garros Maria Sakkari after winning the quarter-final against Iga Swiatek at Roland-Garros (Panoramic)

Maria Sakkari is into her maiden Grand Slam semi-final. That means bigger courts, bigger crowds — and possibly celebrity fans.

“I haven’t been that far [before], so they never came to watch me,” she said during her post-match press conference after upsetting defending champion Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-4 in the French Open quarter-finals on Wednesday afternoon. “I hope they come and watch me from now on! It’s the first time I’ve made it that far in a Grand Slam. I usually play in smaller courts.”

She refused to be drawn on the tactics that helped her beat Swiatek (“I’m not going to tell you!”), but it’s clear that she is in the form of her life — at a career-best ranking of world No 18, and with a chance to move into the Top 10 for the first time should she manage to lift the trophy on Saturday.

It’s exciting times for Sakkari and for Greek tennis more widely, with her close friend and compatriot Stefanos Tsitsipas also impressing on the men’s side of the draw.

“Football (season in Greece) is over, basketball is over, so tennis is in the spotlight,” said Sakkari. “With Stefanos, we’re very close. We know each other since a very young age. I see him every day here. We’re actually having dinner with our teams next to each other every night. I’m very, very happy for him and his family.”

Sakkari’s opponent in the semi-final will be Barbora Krejcikova, who beat her 6-2, 7-6(4) back in March when they met in Dubai. The 25-year-old is confident it will not be so easy for the Czech this time.

“Just to say the truth: I did not play well in Dubai,” Sakkari commented. “It was one of her best weeks. Credit to her. She played very, very good that week. But different conditions, fast court, fast balls. I made a lot of unforced errors.

“I think, of course, it’s going to be very tough, but I’m confident that my coaches will give me the right game plan. So far I have been executing whatever they said really well. I trust myself and I trust their game plan. I think it’s going to work out well.”

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