PARIS (Reuters) - ‘Twisted soul’ Andrea Petkovic joyously planted a kiss on her racket frame after she battled through drizzle and swirling winds on Wednesday to set up an unlikely French Open semi-final showdown with Romanian Simona Halep.
The 28th seeded German came close to turning her back on tennis a year ago after being hobbled by back, ankle and knee injuries but 12 months on she was getting up close and personal with her racket after blowing Italy’s Sara Errani off court with a 6-2 6-2 win.
“I never kissed my racket before in my life. I don’t know what happened to me. I was just overwhelmed by emotion. I had no boy to kiss, so I kissed my racket,” laughed the bubbly 26-year-old after reaching her first grand slam semi-final.
A match featuring 10 breaks and 32 unforced errors was never going to be pretty and a three-hour rain delay left Roland Garros feeling more like a winter wonderland as temperatures dipped to a chilly 10 degrees Celsius. But Petkovic won the points that mattered.
A match that started with spectators huddled under blankets on Philippe Chatrier Court ended with Petkovic beaming in delight as Errani slapped a backhand wide.
After becoming the first German woman to reach the last four in Paris since Steffi Graf in 1999, a player who is influenced by the writings of a number of philosophers said she would now “like to call Freud and ask him what he thinks about... my twisted soul.”
Such a thought is unlikely to trouble Halep, who will be more interested in concentrating on Petkovic’s tennis skills after she too reached her first major semi-final with an equally scrappy 6-2 6-2 win over 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
“It was a perfect day for me,” said Halep, who is bidding to become the first Romanian woman to win the claycourt major since her manager Virginia Ruzici achieved the feat in 1978.
“I won in two sets and very fast. I‘m happy, and I really want to look forward for the next round because it’s my first semi-final at grand slam, and I have to be very focused, very calm, and to try to do everything on court.”
Kuznetsova sports a tattoo on her right arm which declares “pain doesn’t kill me, I kill the pain” but on Wednesday a left hamstring strain proved to be her undoing as she dropped serve six times before bowing out.
“Maybe it was wasn’t her best day today, but for me it was the best,” added fourth seed Halep after becoming the only woman to reach the last four without dropping a set.
Eight-times champion Rafa Nadal will be hoping to extend his 63-1 win-loss record on Wednesday when he faces fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in the men’s quarter-final while Andy Murray faces the unenviable task of silencing 15,000 roaring fans when he takes on home favourite Gael Monfils.
Editing by Alan Baldwin