Tamara Zidansek has never gotten past the second round of a Grand Slam until the French Open. The former snowboarder is now Slovenia’s first woman to reach the semifinals of a major championship. The 85th-ranked Zidansek defeated Spanish competitor Paula Badosa 7-5, 4-6, 8-6 Tuesday in the clay-court competition, propelled by the enthusiastic backing of her coaching staff on Court Philippe Chatrier.
The French Open is the only Grand Slam tournament in which tiebreakers are not used in the final set. Tiebreakers were recently introduced at 12-12 in the final set at Wimbledon.
After splitting the first two sets, Badosa hurled her racket in rage at the changeover with Zidansek leading 6-5 in the third. She regained her composure, but Zidansek survived three break opportunities to take a 7-6 lead and converted her second match point in the following game with a huge forehand.
Zidansek, a three-time Slovenian national junior snowboarding champion, will compete for a place in the Roland Garros final against either Elena Rybakina or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Both players struck some fantastic wins in great weather conditions, but they also made a lot of unforced errors. Badosa put on early pressure with a flurry of long groundstrokes from the baseline. Zidansek’s tactic succeeded, as she dropped her opening serve game and trailed 3-0. However, Badosa’s erroneous performance offered her opponent a break and a boost.
Zidansek began to return more quickly and went for her shots, connecting assaults with daring movements to the net to tie the game at 3-3. Badosa saved a set point in the 12th game with a forehand assault, but she couldn’t hold the second as her weak drop shot went into the net.
Badosa trailed 4-2 in the second set after a string of unforced errors, but Zidansek was unable to capitalize and battled with her serve. The Spaniard rebounded, broke at love in the ninth game, and claimed the set with a powerful forehand.
The 23-year-old Zidansek began this year’s competition by defeating seventh-seeded Bianca Andreescu in the first round, giving her her first career victory against a top-10 player. She was two points away from losing in both the second and third sets of the match.