French Open: Defending champion Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff crash out in quarter-finals

The curse of French Open defending champions has continued, with Iga Swiatek knocked out 6-4 6-4 by Greek Maria Sakkari in the French Open quarter-finals, leaving the women's draw wide open.

The 20-year-old Pole - who took an off-court medical timeout early in the second set - was overwhelmed by Sakkari's power and pace on court Philippe Chatrier, with almost 5000 spectators now allowed to attend.

World No. 9 Swiatek, bidding to become the first woman to retain her title since Justine Henin in 2007, got off to a confident start, but lacked her usual poise against Sakkari, who dictated most of the points and was greatly helped by her opponent's unforced errors.

Sakkari, the world No. 18, will take on Czech Barbora Krejcikova for a place in Sunday's (NZ time) final.

Although she is the highest-ranked player left in the draw, 25-year-old Sakkari does not believe she is now the favourite for the title.

"The rest of the girls are playing extremely well," Sakkari says. "I think the draw has changed so much, so it doesn't really matter who was the highest ranked in this tournament.

"We're four very good players. I don't think the ranking matters, to be honest."

Coco Gauff has been knocked out by Barbora Krejcikova.
Coco Gauff has been knocked out by Barbora Krejcikova. Photo credit: Getty

Russian 31st seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (29) faces unseeded Slovenian Tamara Zidansek (23) in the other semi-final.

"I wouldn't have done it without my team, their support," Sakkari said, after compatriot Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the last four in the men's draw. "It's still a long way to go but we made a huge step today.

"I just really enjoyed today. Before the start of the match, I spoke to myself and said 'It's an important match, but just enjoy, because this is one of the best stadiums in the world'."

Earlier, unseeded Krejcikova reached the semi-finals in her fifth appearance in a Grand Slam main draw, as she beat a nervy Coco Gauff 7-6(6) 6-3.

The 33rd-ranked Czech saved five setpoints, as she recovered from a slow start, and benefited from her 17-year-old opponent's lack of composure to book a meeting with Sakkari.

In 25th-seeded Gauff's first quarter-final at a major, the American appeared to crumble under pressure, making 41 unforced errors, as she served seven double faults.

Krejcikova hopes to become the first player from the Czech Republic to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup since Hana Mandlikova in 1981.

Almost 5000 spectators - up from 1000 until then - were allowed on a sunkissed court Philippe Chatrier, as COVID-19 measures started to ease.

"Thank you so much, it was amazing," Krejcikova said on court. "We were more pumped.  

"I had never dreamed of being here on this court, reaching the semi-finals. I was behind in the first set, but decided to go for every ball and just enjoy myself."