Day 11 diary: Podoroska rekindles Paris love story

Here are storylines you might have missed as Roland-Garros 2021 zones in on the finals weekend.

Irina-Camelia Begu, Nadia Podoroska, Roland-Garros 2021, women's doubles 1/4© Cédric Lecocq / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

It was a memorable day on and off court at Roland-Garros.

Welcoming back more fans to the grounds made it extra special, with the tennis producing plenty of fascinating encounters. Here is what you may have missed on Wednesday in Paris...


Smiles all the way

The celebrations, the jumping, the hugs and smiles told the story.

Irina-Camelia Begu and Nadia Podoroska were buoyant having booked their Roland-Garros doubles semi-finals spot with a hard-fought 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Petra Martic and Shelby Rogers. 

“It’s very emotional, I’m very happy how we played. I’m not used to playing too much doubles, it’s the first year I’m playing more, so I’m really happy,” Podoroska told, hoping to boost her artillery with doubles expertise.

“With my higher ranking I can get into all the tournaments, I want to use it, to learn more.”

The Argentinian, who fell to Belinda Bencic in the singles first round, is relishing the chance to prolong her stay in Paris, spurred on by a spectacular run in 2020.

“It’s very special for me. This is the tournament that everything changed for me,” said the 24-year-old, who made the singles semi-finals as a qualifier here last October.

“It was emotional to be back here. I didn’t play so good in singles, but we’re doing a great job and it’s a good way to stay longer in Paris.”

The duo are in just their third tournament as a combination, with Begu explaining what has connected this fortnight.

“We understand each other very well on and off the court. I also speak Spanish so it’s a good communication,” said the Romanian. “With Nadia it’s easy because she’s a relaxed person.”

Begu, a semi-finalist in women’s doubles at the Australian Open in 2018, is determined not to feel overwhelmed with such a major prize in sight.

Begu and Podoroska must navigate past Iga Swiatek and Bethanie Mattek-Sands to book their spot in the final.

“It would be amazing. But I’m not that stressed, pushing in a negative way,” insisted Begu. “I just want to enjoy. If we make the final, it has to be in a positive way, to be relaxed and enjoy.”

Nadia Podoroska, Irina-Camelia Begu, Roland Garros 2021, women's doubles quarter-finals© Cédric Lecocq/FFT

Pavlyuchenkova still with a shot at singles

You’ll be hard pushed to catch a better rally this fortnight.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Elena Rybakina, singles opponents on Tuesday, managed to pinch away this thrilling point (scroll down).

However, it was Magda Linette and Bernarda Pera who found the answers 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 on Court Simonne-Mathieu to advance to the semi-finals in just their second tournament as a pairing. They’ll come up against the 2018 champions, Czech duo Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

Bigger picture for Zidansek

On a personal and national level, Tamara Zidansek’s breakout major holds plenty of significance.

The world No.85’s coach Marjan Cuk spoke to the press on Wednesday and was heaping praise on his pupil’s personality and her recent development.

“Then last month she starts to speak more deeply with us. All the feelings are coming out. With that feelings we can then guide, we can listen to her. That was a very good feeling and put us as a team very deep," said Cuk, ahead of Zidansek's semi-final against Pavlyuchenkova.

“I know now she's playing for herself, for team and whole crowd from Slovenia. ...She wants to be a psychotherapist, mental coach. ...We approach to her, ‘Look, you are study this one, but now you can be a mental coach for whole Slovenia. If you go to the court and you show the strength and you show the people that I'm here to fight, they will follow you. So you are a mental coach for two million people in Slovenia.’

“She was looking and said, ‘Wow, this is the thing. Yes, now I understand a bigger picture, not just small one.’”

Cuk sprinkled in some great lines. Here is his response to team energy and togetherness in the Zidansek camp.

“This is the thing where tennis is so important, but it's not the only way. We must spend whole day. How to do it? Just to talk about tennis? You get tense then. So there are many things. We enjoy every moment of life. Why not? We are not turtles that we live 220 years. Let's enjoy it, c'mon.”

We’ve certainly enjoyed Zidansek’s journey so far this fortnight.

Tamara Zidansek, team, Roland Garros 2021, third round© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT

Gauff gains for ultimate goals

What a remarkable run from 17-year-old Coco Gauff.

The world No.25 became the youngest American to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final since Venus Williams at the 1997 US Open.

“I'm obviously disappointed that I wasn't able to close out the first set. To be honest, it's in the past, it already happened,” insisted Gauff in her press conference after Krejcikova won in straight sets.

“After the match, Enzo, my hitting partner, told me this match will probably make me a champion in the future. I really do believe that.”

Coco Gauff, Barbora Krejcikova, Roland-Garros 2021, quarter-final© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Diego eyeing a different draw

For the second successive Roland-Garros, Diego Schwartzman packed his bags following defeat to Rafael Nadal.

The amiable Argentinian was asked in his press conference about when the ‘King of Clay’ finally decides to hang up his racquet.

“Is going to be sad for everyone. But obviously I don't want to be in the same side of the draw next time,” said the No.10 seed, tongue in cheek.

“I think I'm a very good player on clay. I did great tournaments here in Paris, but always losing against Rafa the last few years. In semi-finals, two times quarters. I want to play maybe Nole [Djokovic] next time, but no Rafa," he smiles. "Next time we'll see.”

Diego Schwartzman, Rafael Nadal, Roland-Garros 2021, quarter-final© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT