Petkovic and Halep both win 6-2, 6-2 to advance at Roland Garros
Maiden semi-finalists set to meet, with Sharapova and Bouchard paired in first last four tie
Germany's Andrea Petkovic and Romania's Simona Halep both advanced in the French Open at Roland Garros yesterday, and will meet one another tomorrow in what will be a first grand slam semi-final for both players.
Petkovic thrashed 10th seed Sara Errani 6-2, 6-2 after a lengthy rain delay. The 28th seed was quicker to hit her stride in chilly, gusty conditions in Paris and despite losing her first service game she was the more aggressive player throughout.
Petkovic, 26, is appearing at the French Open for the first time since reaching the quarter-finals in 2011.
Halep, meanwhile, outfoxed former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova by the same scoreline: 6-2, 6-2.
Russian 27th seed Kuznetsova, who won the title in 2009 to go with her 2004 US Open title, took a medical timeout after the first set and came back with her left thigh strapped.
She wasted break points early in the second set and made too many unforced forehand errors as Halep - junior champion at Roland Garros in 2008 - wrapped proceedings up on the first match point when Kuznetsova netted a service return.
In the first semi-final, today, Maria Sharapova faces Eugenie Bouchard, and she will have to be at her best against an opponent who likes a scrap, as the 20-year-old Canadian showed by twice overturning daunting deficits to clinch her spot in the last four.
The Russian star - Bouchard's one-time idol - defeated rising Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 1-6, 7-5, 6-1 to reach her fourth successive Roland Garros semi-final and the fifth of her career.
Bouchard, meanwhile, trailed 5-2 in the first set and 4-1 in the third before fighting back to send Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro packing 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 7-5.
And she has pledged to summon that same never-say-die spirit when she meets 2012 champion Sharapova.
"At the end of the day, whether I win or lose, I want to at least leave it all there and try and at least battle," Montreal-based Bouchard, beaten by Sharapova in the second round a year ago, said. "I'm proud of the way I did that in both the first and third [against Navarro]. For me it was such a physical and emotional battle."
After reaching her second straight grand slam semi-final, the 18th seed sought to play down the oft-used description of herself as the "next Sharapova", both for her style of play and her looks, saying she just wants to be herself on court.
"I respect her. But now, you know, we're in the semis of a grand slam, so I'm going to respect her but not put her too high on a pedestal and really just battle," she said.
Seven years Bouchard's senior, Sharapova first caught the Canadian's eye at a tournament in Miami - when the young pretender was watching in the crowd. "Well, I mean, first I noticed like her cute dresses and things like that when I was young," she said. "I was watching the Miami tournament and a photo was taken of her and me when I was seven or eight. And then after this, I remember when she won Wimbledon [in 2004] I was watching her on TV, and I thought, 'wow, what she's doing is cool'.
At the memory of Sharapova's London title, at the age of just 17, Bouchard remembers thinking: "'I want to do the same'."
"I was playing tennis already at the time. Therefore, she was an idol for me when I was younger."
That inspiration has gifted her many of Sharapova's traits - something she hopes she can used to her advantage.
"She has very powerful shots. I'll be ready for that. Also, mentally she's strong. But I think that I have a good serve and good shots, as well," she said.
Reuters, Agence France-Presse