French Open Diary: Birthday girls already celebrating, legends roll back the years
Jelena Ostapenko and Timea Bacsinszky embraced after ensuring they will meet in the semi-finals of the French Open on their birthdays, while tennis legends were rolling back the years on a rainy day in Paris.
Ostapenko has exceeded expectations at Roland Garros, marching into the last four of a major for the first time by beating Caroline Wozniacki in a match which eventually finished after 8pm local time following two breaks due to the weather.
The unseeded teenager turns 20 on Thursday and gave herself a huge early present by coming from behind to defeat the former would number one 4-6 6-2 6-2 on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Bacsinszky will be 28 on the day of their last-four clash at Roland Garros, which the Swiss set up by dispatching home hope Kristina Mladenovic 6-4 6-4, and the pair hugged after coming through their quarter-finals.
Pat Cash, Goran Ivanisevic and Michael Chang were in action on the first day of the legends tournament, while the spectators who missed out on watching Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were able to get a full refund.
BIRTHDAY GIRLS WRITE THE SCRIPT
Tennis lovers can probably not think of a better way to spend their birthdays than going to the French Open, but imagine having the chance to reach your first grand slam final on the day of turning a year older.
And what are the chances of two players who will be up against each other both stepping out in a major semi-final on their birthdays? Ostapenko certainly did not envisage spending her first day as a 20-year-old on the big stage against an opponent she has played doubles with.
The world number 47 said: "I didn't expect that it would be here in Paris, but I'm really happy it's here. Yeah, I'm going to enjoy it, but I will have plans after the tournament."
Bacsinszky, who is about to turn 28, stated: "It's pretty funny. I think it's pretty cool, though. I saw her in the gym just right after our matches today, and so we both said, like, mutually to each other, 'Well done'. We hugged each other, because she's a really nice girl. To me, she is always very nice. We practiced quite a few times together, too. I was happy for her that she was in the semi-final, as well.
"And that we are sharing the same birthday. But lucky her, she's way younger than I am [smiling]. But maybe lucky me, experience-wise, I don't know. But I think those stories are just very good and nice. You guys [journalists] have something to talk about.
IVANISEVIC AND BRUGUERA CASH OUT
It was the start of the legends tournament on the courts of Porte d'Auteuil, where Ivanisevic and Sergi Bruguera got the better of Cash and Chang in the over 45s event.
The former players can only wish they were the tender age that Ostapenko is about to turn, but they can still put on a show.
Martina Navratilova, John McEnroe, Tracy Austin and Henri Leconte are among the greats who will also be in action this week.
Cash posted a picture of the legends on Instagram challenging fans to name them.
REFUNDS SOFTEN THE BLOW
There was huge disappointment for those who braved the dismal weather when Nadal's quarter-final against Pablo Carreno Busta and Djokovic's meeting with Dominic Thiem were put back a day.
The hardy souls that did hang around on the show courts were able to see the women's singles matches finish long after they started, though.
And the ones with tickets for Court Suzanne Lenglen and Court Philippe Chatrier on Tuesday will get a refund as the quarter-finals did not last over two hours.
Fans who watched matches on the outside courts will not get their money back as they saw more play.