Andreeva shocks ailing Sabalenka, faces Paolini in French Open semis

<a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Italy;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Italy</a>'s Jasmine Paolini downed fourth seed Elena Rybakina in her first Grand Slam quarter-final (ALAIN JOCARD)
Italy's Jasmine Paolini downed fourth seed Elena Rybakina in her first Grand Slam quarter-final (ALAIN JOCARD)

Mirra Andreeva became the youngest Grand Slam semi-finalist for 27 years with a shock win over Aryna Sabalenka on Wednesday at the French Open, after fourth seed Elena Rybakina was knocked out by Italy's Jasmine Paolini.

The 17-year-old Andreeva fought back from a set down against Australian Open champion Sabalenka, who appeared to be hampered by illness, to win 6-7 (5/7), 6-4, 6-4 and set up a last-four meeting with Italy's Jasmine Paolini.

The Russian is the youngest woman to reach the last four at a Slam event since Martina Hingis at the 1997 US Open, and the youngest at Roland Garros since Hingis, also that year.

"Me and my coach, we had a plan today but again I didn't remember anything. I just try to play as I feel," said Andreeva.

Sabalenka called for multiple medical time-outs as she complained of not feeling well and Andreeva, playing in her maiden Slam quarter-final, eventually took advantage with a composed display.

The world number 38 completed a memorable win in style after almost two-and-a-half hours with a brilliant lobbed winner, delighting the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd.

"I was also a little surprised as you guys cheered for me, I didn't expect that so thank you very much for cheering me today," she told the spectators.

Sabalenka had been targeting a seventh straight Slam semi-final and had won 11 consecutive matches at the majors following her second Melbourne title earlier this year.

Andreeva will play 12th seed Paolini for a spot in the final on Thursday after her own surprise 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 victory over former Wimbledon champion Rybakina.

Paolini made just one unforced error in a dominant opening set, but her level dropped after breaking to lead 4-3 in the second, allowing Rybakina to force a decider.

But she edged a topsy-turvy third set which featured five breaks of serve to secure a deserved victory, as a wayward Rybakina exited the tournament in a blaze of 48 unforced errors.

The 28-year-old Paolini, who was playing in her first Grand Slam quarter-final, continued a brilliant week for Italian tennis after Jannik Sinner also made his maiden French Open semi-final and took the men's world number one ranking.

It is the first time Italy have had semi-finalists in both the men's and women's singles at a Slam event in the Open era.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," said Paolini, who had never got past the French Open second round and had only won four Grand Slam matches in her career before this year.

Tournament favourite Iga Swiatek plays US Open champion Coco Gauff in Thursday's other women's semi-final.

- Zverev makes fourth straight semi-final -

Alexander Zverev reached his fourth consecutive semi-final in Paris by seeing off Australian Alex de Minaur 6-4, 7-6, (7/5), 6-4 in the night session.

The German will next face Casper Ruud, the 2022 and 2023 runner-up, on Friday for a place in the final after the Norwegian was handed a walkover following Novak Djokovic's withdrawal with a knee injury.

Fourth seed Zverev is still bidding for his maiden Grand Slam title.

The 27-year-old was not at his best against De Minaur -- making 48 unforced errors and hitting only 20 winners -- but dug deep at the right moments, including saving a set point late in the second set before winning a tie-break.

He failed to serve out the match in the ninth game of the third set, but finished it off with a break just minutes later.

"Happy to be in another semi-final, hopefully I can win one," said Zverev, who has lost six of his previous seven Grand Slam semi-finals, including all three at Roland Garros.

Zverev is playing under the shadow of an ongoing trial in Berlin over allegations of assaulting an ex-girlfriend.

De Minaur, seeded 11th, had never even got past the second round in Paris before this year, winning just three of 10 matches.

Djokovic had been due to face Ruud in a repeat of last year's final, but the 24-time Grand Slam champion's title defence was abruptly ended by the knee injury he suffered during his dramatic last-16 victory over Francisco Cerundolo.

Media reports suggested Djokovic was set to undergo surgery, which would put his participation at Wimbledon and the Paris Olympics in doubt.

Sinner will usurp Djokovic as world number one next week and the Italian goes up against Carlos Alcaraz in Friday's other men's semi-final.

There will be a first-time French Open men's champion for the first time since 2016 on Sunday, with Ruud the only man left in the draw who has previously reached the final.