Given the big names that have fallen by the wayside in the women's tournament here at this year's French Open, there would have been no prizes for predicting the outcome of yesterday's two remaining quarter-finals.
Svetlana Kuznetsova, a former French and US Open champion, and Sara Errani, runner-up here two years ago, both faced younger opponents who had never even played in a Grand Slam semi-final. Kuznetsova was beaten 6-2, 6-2 by Romania's Simona Halep and Errani lost by exactly the same score to Germany's Andrea Petkovic.
Maria Sharapova, who faces Eugenie Bouchard in today's semi-finals, is the clear favourite to win the title on Saturday, but Halep, who meets Petkovic this afternoon, is the highest ranked of the four players left in the tournament. The world No 4 has won seven titles in the last 13 months – only Serena Williams has won more in the same period – and is the only semi-finalist yet to drop a set.
Capitalising on her speed around the court, Halep broke serve six times, including in the opening game. Kuznetsova took a medical time-out after the first set and returned with her left thigh strapped. The Russian made a better start to the second set but Halep soon regained control.
Errani won the first two games against Petkovic, but thereafter the German's greater power proved decisive. The world No 27, who is enjoying her best run since injuries spoiled her 2012 and 2013 seasons, started the second set poorly, dropping her opening two service games, but won five games in a row to complete an emphatic victory.