Day 12 Diary: Guga reveals Tsitsipas interest, hails Schwartzman's impact on South America

 - Alex Sharp

Roland-Garros 2020 is edging towards the finale, but there is plenty still happening on and off court.

Across the pristine grounds of Roland-Garros the action is building into a crescendo ahead of the title bouts. 

It’s impossible to keep an eye on everything, so here is what you might have missed in Paris.

Kuerten reveals Tsitsipas interest

Three-time Roland-Garros champion Gustavo ‘Guga’ Kuerten joined a press conference on Thursday afternoon and hailed the quartet making up the scintillating men’s semi-finals line-up.

With the headband and single-handed backhand, the gregarious Brazilian is welcoming comparisons with world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“For me it's easier to see myself back there on the court,” said Guga chuckling away. “His hand is much nicer than mine, for sure. But I look prettier.”

As for Diego Schwartzman, up against Rafael Nadal on Friday, breaking new ground. “It's delightful because he's a great character for tennis,” continued Kuerten. “For us, back here in South America, it gave us again the extra power to believe, to get going. Argentina deserves this.”

Meanwhile, crowd favourite Kuerten, champion on Court Philippe-Chatrier in 1997, 2000-01, revealed he had an interesting request from Tsitsipas.

“He called me back in the beginning of the year. I told him I'm already coaching my sons, at their school, not tennis, mathematics and stuff like this. I couldn't travel,” said the Brazilian legend.

What a link up that would have been!

A final snippet from the three-time champion; he’s expecting two mega semi-finals.

“That's what the tournament deserves to the end. A South American player that give an extra flavour. The best two players in the world right now… two gods,” he added, waxing lyrical about 12-time champion Nadal and top seed Novak Djokovic.

“If we see this final happen, will be amazing, one fighting for the record of slams and the other one just having the right challenger to see if he will be able to get through and put himself in a better position to end up with these majors records. 

“I'm very happy about the tournament itself, to see these great personalities, the players in the best scenario possible in the semis.”

When you see yourself on TV

Nicole Melichar was more than happy to sit in the stands to support doubles partner Iga Swiatek

During an early change of ends, the American spotted herself on the big TV screens on Court Philippe-Chatrier and gave the viewers around the world a wave. We all would, right?

Swiatek, who is bidding for a Roland-Garros double, and Melichar are in action on Friday facing the No.14 seeds Alexa Guarachi and Desirae Krawczyk in the women's doubles semi-finals.

Podoroska pride in Paris

Nadia Podoroska is leaving Roland-Garros with a smile and with good reason.

The Argentine navigated thought the qualifying gauntlet and stormed through to the semi-finals on her Roland-Garros main draw debut.

With an astonishing 43 match-wins to her name in this stop-start 2020, Podoroska is projected to rise to world No.48 after her breakout major.

“I think it's that I'm enjoying my life. I am enjoying what I am living. A few weeks. I'm happy. Even the result today wasn't good for me, but I'm happy,” claimed the 23-year-old, the first qualifier to reach the women’s final four at Roland-Garros in the Open Era. 

“Of course is going to change my ranking, the tournaments that I'm going to play since now. But not my life,” insists the current world No.131.

“I'm going to be the same person. I'm going to try to improve my game, like I'm doing all the past few years.”

Upsets in wheelchair event

Belgium’s Joachim Gerard pulled off an impressive 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 triumph to oust men’s wheelchair top seed and seven-time champion Shingo Kunieda to reach the final.

Gerard will vie for the silverware up against Great Britain’s Alfie Hewett, who edged defending champion Gustavo Fernandez 7-6(5), 7-5.

Hewett and compatriot Gordon Reid also surged into the wheelchair doubles final to take on reigning champions Fernandez and Kunieda, who saved four match points in their semi-final triumph over home favourites Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer.

Inaugural champion Dylan Alcott and second seed Andy Lapthorne booked their ticket in the men’s quad singles final.

Three-time winner Yui Kamiji will be joined in an all-Japanese women’s wheelchair final by Momoko Ohtani, who shocked top seed and defending champion Diede de Groot in straight sets.

Petra curious who will be champion

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, following her joint-best Roland-Garros showing, is welcoming the youth ranks onto the scene at the latter stages of Grand Slams, but is ready to fight her corner in 2021. 

“Of course, that I'm ready to challenging them. I don't want to give them free spot, for sure. I mean, none of us do,” said the 30-year-old Czech with a smile.

“For sure I'm not ending my career yet, so that's how it is.

“It will be an exciting final actually, to be honest. I mean, Sofia really play great match today. I think she is kind of the favourite for sure. I mean, Iga was playing unbelievable tournament so far, she beat Simona. Still she was able to find a way after that match. It will be very nice, very young final for sure. I'm curious who going to win, too.

“Yeah, I will be back next year.”

Spot the finalists!

Here is a brilliant ‘Throwback Thursday’ for the two women’s singles finalists. Check out the tweet below…