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Bacsinszky ready for dangerous Mladenovic

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Originally published on 05/06/17 00:00

The French Open is set to crown a first-time Grand Slam champion in 2017 after former major winners Venus Williams, Sam Stosur, Svetlana Kuznetsova and defending champion Garbine Muguruza headed for the exit on Sunday. Of the eight names left in contention, just two have reached the semi-finals or better in Paris: 2014 finalist Simona Halep, and Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky, who reached the final four in 2015.

Bacsinszky, into the quarter-finals for a third successive year, fought back from a set down to beat Williams 5-7 6-2 6-1 and confirm that the women’s draw would crown a new major winner on June 10. And the Lausanne native enjoyed plenty of support from her fellow Francophones on Court Philippe Chatrier – a special feeling, especially for a player from a small country with a handful of tournaments each year.

“It was kind of insane for me, hearing my name many times and pretty loudly in the crowd,” No.30 seed Bacsinszky said. “I felt really touched and honoured.

“As a tennis player, you dream of playing on big courts. You know that there's never going to be such a big tennis event in your own country. At one of the four Grand Slams, you hear your name, like, so loud, it's something insane. I would have never imagined that in my whole life.

“This is, as well, a pretty good reminder for myself that sometimes even if it's tough – you have injuries or other problems that every tennis player can have – you work hard for these moments. You're privileged to be able to play on these courts. It's an honour to have so many people cheering for me.

“I don't know why or how this bond was made, but it felt really special,” Bacsinszky added, before joking: “I know it's not going to be the same for my next match!”

She’s probably right. Bacsinszky faces French No.1 and first-time Roland Garros quarter-finalist Kristina Mladenovic, who knocked out defending champion Garbine Muguruza in front of a soccer-style atmosphere on Court Suzanne Lenglen on Sunday.

The duo have a tour-level win apiece heading into the last-eight showdown, with Bacsinszky edging an almighty Fed Cup battle in Geneva against the No.13 seed.

“She's just had an awesome year," said Bacsinszky. "She's a very versatile player who has made incredible progress in the past six months – this year she's particularly dangerous. But I think I can upset her. She can probably upset me, too, on court. So I hope it will be an interesting match.”

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