Kuznetsova latest hurdle between Halep and ending Romania’s search for grand slam winner

Errani and Petkovic set to meet in match that will round out women's singles semi-finals

Simona Halep of Romania returns a backhand to Sloane Stephens of the United States during their women's singles match at the French Open on June 2, 2014. Vincent Kessler / Reuters
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PARIS // Simona Halep puts her bid to become the first Romanian woman to win the French Open in 36 years on the line against 2009 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in Wednesday's quarter-finals.

The second berth for a place in the last four will be a battle between 2012 finalist Sara Errani of Italy against rejuvenated Andrea Petkovic of Germany.

Russian 27th seed Kuznetsova was the last of the eight women to book her spot in the last eight thanks to a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win over Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova as dusk fell on Monday.

The 2004 US Open champion knows she will have a fight on her hands when she takes on the in-form Halep, who beat Sloane Stephens of the United States 6-4, 6-3 to make the last eight.

“She’s already in the top 10. I think she is going to be good, even better than she is now,” Kuznetsova said of her opponent.

On their last meeting in Stuttgart earlier this year, when Kuznetsova evened their head-to-head record at 2-2, she dismissed any notion of an advantage, having won in two tough sets on the German clay.

“It will be different match. It doesn’t matter who won last time or anything like that. It’s going to be new match in a Grand Slam quarter-final,” she said.

“It’s going to be amazing, difficult, and exciting to play with her and it’s going to be a very difficult match but Roland Garros is one of the most important tournaments of my life.”

Halep is trying to emulate her manager and compatriot, Virginia Ruzici, who won the French Open in 1978. Ruzici also made the final again two years later, when she lost to Chris Evert.

“I feel good that I can represent Romania in the quarter-finals in this tournament, so it’s an amazing feeling,” Halep said.

Petkovic, who saw her ranking slip to 177 last year after peaking at No 9 in 2011 when she reached the quarter-finals in Australia, Roland Garros and the US Open, is back near the top as she challenges the dangerous Errani.

The Bosnian-born German has yet to reach a grand slam tournament semi-final.

“I feel like I still have a long way to go, and I’m still not as consistent as I used to be. There are still a lot of things that I need to learn and still a lot of things that need to come back that are gone now,” she said.

“After all my injuries, it’s been a very long time that I was out. You sort of forget, especially mentally, you sort of forget a lot of things,” she added in reference to the back, ankle and knee problems that left her at 136 in the world and unable to get through qualifying at Roland Garros in 2013.

Errani, 27, will pose a real threat to Petkovic, having come through an 81-minute first set against former world No 1 and sixth-seed Jelena Jankovic before prevailing 7-6, 6-2 in her fourth-round match.


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