One thing is for sure, the 2017 Roland Garros champion will be a first-time Grand Slam champion and the field is wide open! This year’s women’s semifinals will see Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko against Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky and Romania’s Simona Halep vs. Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic.
Here are three things you need to know from each match:
In a rare coincidence, the former doubles partners will play their first match against each other on their shared birthday – June 8. Bacsinszky will be turning 28 while Ostapenko celebrates her 20th birthday. When Bacsinszky was asked about the coincidence, she said “Lucky her she’s way younger than I am, but maybe lucky me, experience wise.”
In the biggest match of their respective careers, obviously it will be a much happier birthday for the winner, who will take part in the Roland Garros final.
Bacsinszky and Ostapenko also share their June 8 birthday with tennis legends Kim Clijsters (1983) and Lindsay Davenport (1976).
The semifinal matchup is almost here… But first, ‘let me take a selfie’.
— Jess Stein (@jessica4stein) June 6, 2017
With her quarter-final victory over No. 11seed Caroline Wozniacki (4-6, 6-2, 6-2), Ostapenko became the first Latvian-born woman to advance to a Roland Garros semifinal in the Open Era. World No. 47 Ostapenko also defeated Olympic gold medallist Monica Puig and No. 23 seed Samantha Stosur on her way to her first Grand Slam semifinal. At (almost) 20-years-old, Ostapenko is the youngest player to advance to the final four at the French Open since Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic did in 2007.
It was an automated email invite from the French Tennis Federation that resurrected her tennis career in 2013. Since then, Bacsinszky has played some of her best tennis at Roland Garros. She has 14 victories in her last 16 matches at the clay-court Slam. In 2015, she made the Roland Garros semifinals before losing to eventual champion Serena Williams (6-4, 3-6, 0-6). This year, No. 30 seed Bacsinszky has defeated No. 10 seed Venus Williams (5-7, 6-2, 6-1) and No. 13 Kristina Mladenovic, who was also the local favourite (6-4, 6-4).
Below, Bacsinszky talks about sharing a birthday with her semifinal opponent, Ostapenko.
Bacsinszky on sharing the same birthday as Ostapenko: It's pretty cool. I saw her in the gym and we hugged each other (📹 Eurosport) pic.twitter.com/OCd2HiLY4j
— Ilya Ryvlin (@ryvlin) June 6, 2017
The first semifinal match will be played at 9:00 a.m. ET on Court Philippe Chatrier.
The current WTA No. 1 Angelique Kerber has struggled so far in 2017, leaving the door open for a new top-ranked player. This match-up has huge implications for who the new No. 1 might be. If Pliskova wins their semifinal match, she becomes the new world No. 1. Halep will not only need to reach the final, but also capture the Roland Garros crown to secure the pinnacle for herself.
This match-up will be the seventh career meeting between Halep and Pliskova. Halep has a 4-2 head-to-head record against Pliskova, including her 2016 Rogers Cup presented by National Bank victory last year in the round of 16 (6-3, 6-3). Halep went on to win the title in Montreal, becoming the first Romanian to do so. She will return to Toronto in August to defend her title.
Here’s Halep after winning the 2016 Rogers Cup in Montreal:
Prior to the quarter-finals, tennis legend Martina Navratilova predicted the winner of the match between Halep and No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina would eventually win Roland Garros. The quarter-final duel saw Halep pull off an amazing comeback. She dropped the first set 6-3 then, facing a 5-1 deficit in the second set, Halep started attacking the ball and took the set 7-6(6) while saving match points. She stormed through the final set, beating Svitolina 6-0. Halep admitted she was quite tired after the match but she will have to recover quickly as the semifinals take place Thursday. Pliskova won her quarter-final contest against Carolina Garcia in straight sets (7-6(3), 6-4).
Halep paved her way to the semifinals with a thundering ace on match point:
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) June 7, 2017
Will Pliskova be able to prove Martina Navratilova wrong and reach her first Roland Garros final?
Find out Thursday morning as Halep vs. Pliskova will hit the court following the conclusion of the first semifinal (approximately 11 a.m. ET).
TV Programming information can be found here.