Samantha Stosur has kept alive her dream of adding a French Open title to her collection by seeing off Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova in a greulling quarter-final.
With the clouds closing in on Roland Garros, Stosur survived a tense tiebreak to prevail 6-5 7-6 (8-6) in a little under two hours and advance to the final four for the fourth time – adding to a 2010 defeat in the final and semi-final exits in 2009 and 2012.
“I love playing here. I love this (centre court),” Stosur said.
“I’m very fortunate to have had many good tournaments here. This is another one, it’s great.”
Stosur will next play fourth seed Garbine Muguruza on Friday for a spot in Saturday’s final, with the Spaniard downing American outsider Shelby Rogers in straight sets.
“She hits the ball hard and flat. It’s going to be hard,” Stosur said.
The women on the other side of the draw – including world No.1 and favourite Serena Williams – will play their quarter-finals on Thursday as organisers attempt to reorganise the schedule following many rain delays.
Stosur started slugglishly in the cool conditions on Wednesday and was twice broken in her opening three service games to go down 4-2 in an error-strewn opening to the match.
She was on the cusp of being broken again, giving up triple break point which would’ve seen her go 5-2 down and on the cusp of conceding the first set.
However Stosur would save all three – letting out a motivating “c’mon” in the process – in a game which would prove the match’s turning point.
Stosur would win the next five games as her rhythm returned, closing out the first set in 41 minutes.
She cleared her head and returned to the sort of form which helped take down the past two beaten French Open finalists, Lucie Safarova and Simona Halep.
“I actually found (the conditions) today a little bit harder than yesterday (against Halep) even though we were playing in the rain yesterday,” Stosur said.
“Very happy to close that one out in straight sets.”
However with her French Open on the line, Pironkova responded to break Stosur early in the second and open up a 3-1 lead.
Stosur then won three games on the bounce to regain control of the set.
As clouds darkened and rain threatened to return, Stosur was able to ice the quarter-final by fighting back in the tiebreak.
After saving two set points, Stosur forced an error from the Pironkova forehand to take the win and the semi-final berth.