Tamara Zidansek powered into the French Open semi-finals on Tuesday with a three-set win over Paula Badosa as her remarkable campaign at Roland Garros continued. The world number 85 was the lowest-ranked player in the quarter-finals, which featured six players never to have reached this stage of a grand slam before, a record in the Open Era.
The first woman representing Slovenia to get to the last eight of a major, Zidansek handled the occasion better as she moved a set and 4-2 ahead on Court Philippe-Chatrier.
Badosa responded with some powerful hitting as her opponent began to falter, but Zidansek summoned up energy reserves when it mattered to clinch a 7-5 4-6 8-6 win in two hours and 26 minutes.
Badosa, the 33rd seed, had never before been beyond the fourth round of a slam but came into the contest with some pedigree at this event, having won the girls' title in 2015.
The Spaniard eased into a 3-0 lead in the opening set, but Zidansek won five of the next six games to take the lead in the match for the first time. Badosa warded off a set point but succumbed to the second as a slice clipped the top of the net.
Badosa had been one of the form players on clay this year, winning in Belgrade last month after reaching the semi-finals in Madrid and Charleston, but the 23-year-old sent a tight forehand into the tramlines to hand Zidansek a 3-1 lead in the second set.
The Slovenian was similarly tentative in the next game, sending a careless shot long to hand back the break to trigger a succession of unsteady service games from both players.
Badosa, who racked up five double faults in the second set, fell 4-2 behind, only to respond with three games in a row, breaking Zidansek to love before levelling the match when a strong forehand forced an error.
Just as she looked in control, Badosa slapped a forehand into the net to hand back a break, and suddenly Zidansek's laser groundstrokes began to find their mark again, a thumping winner moving her 5-4 ahead.
She dug deep to save break points and move 7-6 ahead after the longest game of the match, and one last forehand winner on the second match point was enough to end a gruelling contest and set up a semi-final against the victor of the clash between Elena Rybakina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Data Slam: Zidansek on target at critical moments
"I was struggling a little bit but, in the third set, I managed to get my groove," said an emotional Zidansek after an exhausting match.
Her accuracy at the crucial points late in the contest proved decisive. She hit 22 of her 48 winners in the deciding set, helping her to swat away break points before clinching the victory.
Zidansek – 48/39
Badosa – 31/47
Zidansek – 1/3
Badosa – 2/9
BREAK POINTS WON
Zidansek – 8/13
Badosa – 7/14