French Open 2021: Novak Djokovic fends off Matteo Berrettini, will face Rafael Nadal in semifinals

·7-min read

Wednesday is the final day of quarterfinals at the French Open, where four men and four women are vying for the final two spots in their semifinals. We've got big names like Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic on the court, and Coco Gauff is attempting to get to the semis at a Grand Slam for the very first time. 

Follow along below for Wednesday's results.

Djokovic holds off Berrettini

Djokovic was Djokovic on Wednesday, which means he's through to the French Open semifinals. He beat Italy's Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5 to advance to his 11th semifinal at Roland-Garros.

Despite a start that looked slow for Berrettini, both players were extremely competitive throughout the match. Berrettini has sizzling speed on both his first and second serves, and made bold choices to try and beat the seemingly unbeatable Djokovic. 

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Berrettini had several chances in the first set to take control of the match and put some pressure on Djokovic. But despite hitting quality shots, he just couldn't get past Djokovic's defenses. Berrettini won just two games in the second set, and suddenly he was staring down the possibility of a straight sets loss.  

With the win within reach for Djokovic, Berrettini made every effort to build momentum and extend the match in the third set. He started unleashing triple-digit forehands, with one of them clocking in at 113 mph, and whistled in an ace to go up 5-4. 

Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning against Italy's Matteo Berrettini during their men's singles quarter-final tennis match on Day 11 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 9, 2021. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)
Novak Djokovic had to pull out all the stops to beat Matteo Berrettini and his scorching forehand. (Photo by ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

But every time Berrettini was able to claw out an advantage, Djokovic was able to take it right back. He threw everything he had at Djokovic, but Berrettini couldn't stop him from forcing a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, despite Berrettini and Djokovic matching each other at every turn, Berrettini finally pulled out a win. Just like his fourth-round match against Lorenzo Musetti, Djokovic was having trouble with an Italian. 

It didn't get any easier for either player from there, especially once the raucous crowd was finally forced to leave just minutes before the curfew at 11 p.m. local time, requiring a break of nearly 20 minutes. Once they got going again, they didn't miss a beat. Berrettini took it to the very end, fending off several match points to the shouting, sign-kicking frustration of Djokovic. Barely three minutes after throwing a mini-tantrum, he finally closed it out.

In the semifinals, Djokovic will face 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal.

Rafael Nadal recovers from lost set to oust Diego Schwartzman

Rafa Nadal is headed somewhere he knows very well: the French Open semifinals. 

The king of Roland-Garros defeated Argentina's Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0 in the quarterfinals, finding his way to another win despite brilliant early play from Schwartzman.

Wednesday was the first time Nadal had been seriously challenged so early in a match, and he was pushed to the limit. After he took the first set, Schwartzman started answering back with gusto. Nadal seemed off-kilter, letting a unforced errors get the best of him while Schwartzman took advantage at every turn. Schwartzman took the set, giving Nadal his first set loss of the entire tournament. 

Nadal bounced back in the third set, but Schwartzman was right there with him, taking a 4-3 lead and forcing Nadal to face the possibility of being down 2 sets to 1, which hasn't happened to him at the French Open for 10 years. The pivotal moment came with the set tied 4-4, when Nadal moved himself into a different gear and began channeling his anger into the game. He broke Schwartzman's serve and went up 5-4, and took the set one short game later.

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 09: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates a point during his Mens Singles Quarter-Final match against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during Day Eleven of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on June 09, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)
PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 09: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates a point during his Mens Singles Quarter-Final match against Diego Schwartzman of Argentina during Day Eleven of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on June 09, 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Adam Pretty/Getty Images)

After Nadal broke Schwartzman in the third set, he went on a run of 16 straight points. Schwartzman, who had just recently appeared to be in control of the match, was visibly frustrated. He wasn't able to recover, and the final set ended without Schwartzman winning a single game. He just ran out of steam, not even scoring a point in the final game. Nadal won 25 of the final 30 points. 

Coco Gauff falls to Barbora Krejcikova

Gauff, the final American woman or man left standing in the singles portion of the French Open, is headed home after being defeated by unseeded Czech player Barbora Krejcikova 7-6 (6), 6-3.

It was the very first Grand Slam singles quarterfinal for Gauff and Krejcikova, and both were riding nine-match winning streaks coming into Wednesday. Their resolve was put to the test in the grueling 70-minute first set. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, Gauff was up 5-3 and had five different chances to put the match away, but Krejcikova saved all five set points and staged a comeback to force a tiebreak. 

After losing the tiebreak, Gauff was never able to re-steady herself. At one point in the second set she double faulted, then proceeded to smash her racket on the ground in frustration. By then, the set and the match were falling through her fingers and she wasn't able to pull herself back into it. 

PARIS, FRANCE June 9.  Coco Gauff of the United States reacts during her loss against Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic on Court Philippe-Chatrier during the quarter finals of the singles competition at the 2021 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on June 9th 2021 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Coco Gauff fell to Barbora Krejcikova in the quarterfinals of the French Open. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Krejcikova, ranked No. 33 by the WTA, has been a wrecking ball through every round of the French Open. She lost the very first set she played in Round 1, but hasn't lost a single one since. She started by beating fellow Czech player Karolina Pliskova, then took down No. 32 Ekaterina Alexandrova in Round 2 followed by fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina. She defeated the resurgent Sloane Stephens in Round 4, and is headed to her first Grand Slam semifinal after beating Gauff.

After the match, Krejcikova praised the 17-year-old Gauff.

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Krejcikova will face Greece's Maria Sakkari in the semifinals.

Maria Sakkari defeats defending champ Iga Swiatek

Iga Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, won't be repeating in 2021. Maria Sakkari, seeded 17th, shocked the 8th-seeded Swiatek 6-4, 6-4 to advance to her very first Grand Slam semifinal. 

Sakkari went down 2-0 in the first set to Swiatek, who is a clay specialist, but bounced back quickly. She won eight of the next 10 games to snap Swiatek's 22-set win streak at Roland Garros.

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Swiatek was broken in the first game of the second set, and lost the second game to go down 2-0. She then called for a medical timeout to have her leg taped, and was able to regroup somewhat after she returned. Down 5-4, she was able to stave off two match points to extend the game, but Sakkari was successful on the third try.

"I thought about it a lot of times that maybe that was my ceiling and I could not get any higher in the rankings, playing better in tournaments," Sakkari said after the match. "But this year I proved to myself that I'm actually playing really good.

"I beat a lot of good players. Probably also I had the right people around me saying that I can do it, [which] gave me a lot of confidence in achieving that."

Sakkari is now the highest-ranked woman left in the singles portion of the French Open, and she's the first Greek woman to advance to the semifinals at a Grand Slam tournament. She'll face Barbora Krejcikova in the semis. 

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