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Mirra Andreeva defeats no. 2 Aryna Sabalenka to reach the semi-finals of the French Open at age

PARIS: Mirra Andreeva, the unseeded 17-year-old Russian, stunned No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenko 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-4 at the French Open on Wednesday to become the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since. Martina Hingis at age 16 in 1997.
“I tried to play bravely,” said 38th-ranked Andreeva. “And I managed to win.”
She is also the youngest player to knock out someone ranked no. 1 or 2, as Monica Seles – like Hingis, now a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame – was 16 when she beat Steffi Graf in the 1990 final.
Andreeva has yet to win a title on any tour and is competing in just her fifth Slam tournament.
Sabalenka, meanwhile, is a two-time Australian Open champion, also in January, and had won the first 23 Grand Slam sets she played in 2024 until losing two straight to Andreeva. Sabalenko was visited by a trainer and doctor several times on Wednesday and was often held in half, although it was not clear what was wrong.
After breaking and ending the match with a beautiful lob that Sabalenka didn’t even move to try to reach, Andreeva smiled wildly before covering her face with both hands.
“Honestly speaking, I was very nervous before the game. I knew she would have the upper hand, especially with the crowd,” said Andreeva, whose older sister, 19-year-old Erika, lost to Sabalenka in the first round last week. “But I was actually a little surprised since you were rooting for me too.”
On Thursday, Andreeva will face another newcomer to the stage: No. 12 seed Jasmine Paolini, the 28-year-old Italian who reached her first major semifinal with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory over No. 4th seed Elena Rybakina, Wimbledon champion two years ago.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Paolini, who has won two titles in her career, neither on clay.
Thursday’s other matchup features two players with far more experience and a far greater track record: No. 1 Iga Swiatek v. no. 3 Coco Gauff. Swiatekova seeks her fifth Grand Slam title and fourth in Paris; Gauff won the US Open last September and was runner-up to Swiatek at Roland Garros in 2022. Both won the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Whoever wins this semi-final is likely to be a heavy favorite in the final against either Andreeva or Paolini.
If Sabalenka and Rybakina win on Wednesday, it would be just the second time in the professional era, which began in 1968, that a 1-4 seeded women has advanced to the semifinals. The second was way back in 1992 when Seles, Graf, Gabriela Sabatini and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario did it.
But Paolini and Andreeva prevented that.
Andreeva already showed a lot of promise, last year she made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon and this year the Australian Open. She is precocious on and off the court and is still perfecting her game, currently with the help of coach Conchita Martinez, the 1994 Wimbledon champion.
“I kind of see the game. I play where I want. I don’t even have a plan,” Andreeva said, laughing. “So when I see an open space on the court, I try to play there. Or if I think she might run there, I try to play behind her back or something like that. Today, the coach and I had a plan, but I didn’t remember anything during the game. I try to feel it and that’s it.”
Paolini was knocked out in the first or second round in each of her first 16 Grand Slam appearances before reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open.
With Jannik Sinner in the men’s semifinals, it is the first time that an Italian woman and an Italian man have appeared in the final four of the same Grand Slam tournament in the same year. It’s quite a moment for their country in tennis: On Monday, Sinner will become the first man to become the No. 1 in the ATP rankings.
Paolini finished with 22 unforced errors, less than half of Rybakina’s 48. And Paolini mustered seven breaks against the excellent-serving Rybakina, who hit 10 aces.
Paolini dominated the opening set, making just one unforced error while Rybakina made 16. In the second set, after going up 5-3, Paolini lost a little nerve, allowing Rybakina to forced the third.
The final set went back and forth until Paolini managed to break the match one last time for a 5-4 advantage before serving out the win and shouting as Rybakin was sent back.
“I (got) a little too emotional in the second set,” Paolini said. “But then I was like, ‘OK. It’s okay. She is a great champion, so it can happen. Just fight. Try to keep it there. Try to hit every ball.’ And yes, it worked.”

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