Day 8 diary: Stef in love, Iga in doubles delight

We’ve edged past the halfway point and Roland-Garros 2021 just keeps getting better and better.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Roland-Garros 2021, fourth round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT
 - Alex Sharp

This time next week all our champions will have been crowned at Roland-Garros 2021.

Let’s not wish it away; Day 8 produced another serving of scintillating tennis. Here are some storylines you might have missed around the grounds on Sunday.

Tsitsipas charming in the city of love

The tennis was silky smooth, the chat afterwards was equally delightful.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is riding a wave of momentum having posted his 20th clay-court victory of the season.

The emphatic 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Pablo Carreno Busta launched the No.5 seed into a tantalising quarter-final against world No.2 Daniil Medvedev.

“I love it, I love playing with people, I love the attention… Here at Roland-Garros they appreciate good tennis. It’s a privilege, it’s a great sensation and feeling for me,” declared the 22-year-old during his on-court interview with Fabrice Santoro, switching to French to finish.

“J’adore Paris, j’adore la terre battue.” "I love Paris, I love clay."

The philosophical Greek was also possibly angling for some drop-shot advice from Santoro, who reached the fourth round at Roland-Garros in 1991 and 2001, and had an abundance of flair and panache on court.

“I felt good, I felt my tactics were working well. I did miss a couple of drop shots, I feel like I would need your touch there,” chuckled Tsitsipas. “Overall I felt great. Credit to Pablo, we’ve played each other a couple of times, on different surfaces, and he always brings out the best in my game.”

Swiatek and Mattek-Sands delight fans

This diary has featured numerous scenes featuring the return of fan involvement, which has warmed the heart.

Today on Court Simonne-Mathieu, reigning singles champion Iga Swiatek and doubles stalwart Bethanie Mattek-Sands produced a captivating comeback to spark jubilant scenes in the stands. 

"This is why I play tennis,” stated Mattek-Sands, activating selfie mode on her phone to film the vocal crowd, who were being cajoled into joining in their post-match celebrations by Swiatek.

The Polish-American duo clawed their way back from 1-5 in the decider against top seeds Elise Mertens and Hsieh Su-Wei, saving seven match points along the way. After three hours and 11 rollercoaster minutes, Swiatek and Mattek-Sands advanced 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 into the last eight. Bravo!

Badosa draws parallels with coach

A reflective Paula Badosa spoke of expectations and hype after booking her maiden Grand Slam quarter-final.

The Spaniard, junior champion in Paris back in 2015, can relate to her coach Javier Marti, who was compared a lot to Rafael Nadal during his younger days on tour.

Marti reached a career-high of world No.170 in 2012 before pursuing a career in coaching.

"He knows what it is to have expectations when you're very young and you're a very good player, you have a bright future ahead you,” stated the 23-year-old ahead of her upcoming quarter-final against world No.85 Tamara Zidansek.

“I think we have really similar situations when we were young. In this moment he's helping me a lot on that. Since the moment I came here, I had expectations. People were believing I could do a good tournament. That mentally was a little bit tough for me to handle it. But I think I managed them very well.”

Fist bump for the set

Congratulations to Great Britain’s Andy Lapthorne for ticking the last major off the set.

The 30-year-old teamed up with American veteran David Wagner to edge Dylan Alcott and Sam Schroder 7-6(1), 4-6, 10-7 in the quad wheelchair men’s doubles final. 

Lapthorne has now completed the doubles career Grand Slam and quite rightly toasted the achievement on social media.

Sir Andy lifts Federer’s spirits

Unfortunately we waved goodbye to Roger Federer today at Roland-Garros 2021, but earlier on Sunday the Swiss made sure he thanked Andy Murray for his support.

The Scot tweeted his amazement at watching the 20-time Grand Slam champion, “at 39 off the back of 2 knee surgeries playing to an empty stadium at 12.30am getting fired up is inspirational to me. Do what you love.”

To which Federer posted, “Thank you Sir Andy, the feeling is mutual. You gotta love it. See you on the grass.”

Quick recharge for Davidovich Fokina

Spanish 22-year-old Alejandro Davidovich Fokina’s legion of fans continues to grow with his compelling play.

The world No.46, completely exhausted and cramping in his right arm at the end, managed to edge past Federico Delbonis 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 for his maiden major quarter-final.

“I gave everything over three hours, enjoyed every moment. I worked hard for this moment and that’s it,” said Davidovich Fokina, stretching every sinew to outrun and overpower the Argentine.

“This is for my team, who work hard, supporting me everyday. There are a lot of emotions for me, I’m so happy. I need to rest now, I’m so, so tired.”

He needs to recharge quickly as he faces Alexander Zverev on Tuesday.

Shot of the day