The Russian duo prepare for the clash of the French Open QF

Veronika Kudermetova and Daria Kasatkina compete under neutral banners at Roland Garros, but there is no doubt that they set up an all-Russian quarter-final at Roland Garros.

Both are playing as neutrals after Russian and Belarusian flags and representation were banned on tennis tours following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Also excluded from Wimbledon due to British government restrictions on Russians, they are making the most of the clay major in Paris.

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Kudermetova rallied to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time with a 1-6 6-3 6-1 win over American Madison Keys.

Kasatkina beat Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-2 to reach this stage at Roland Garros for the second time in her career.

Also in the quarter-finals will be 2020 champion Iga Switek who will be heavily favored to beat Jessica Pegula after extending her winning streak to 32 games with a 6-7 (5-7) 6-0 6-2 loss to Zheng Qinwen.

It was, however, tougher than the scoreline suggests and one of the toughest of those 32 games, lasting two hours 45 minutes despite Zheng having to be treated for a thigh injury.

Swiatek went on a break after the first set and returned with a handful of notes she had taken.

“I had never played her before and I was surprised by some of her shots,” Swiatek said. “I’m glad I was able to come back after a frustrating first set [which she led 5-2].”

Swiatek is one of two survivors of the 12 Grand Slam champions who have appeared in the tournament – the other being 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens.

On the other hand, Pegula will play her first Roland Garros quarter-final after beating Irina-Camelia Begu 4-6 6-2 6-3.

She is the third American in the last eight with Coco Gauff and Stephens due to face off on Tuesday.

Keys, who reached the Roland Garros semi-finals in 2018, could have made an American quartet. However, after dominating the first set against Kudermetova, she lost the rhythm after the Russian took a bathroom break before the second set.

Kudermetova then earned an early break, an advantage she held to equalise. The Russian then broke in the opener of the third set after trailing 40-0 and raced to victory.

She now meets her compatriot, 20th seed Kasatkina, who said she feels she has eliminated the “kid bulls ***” from her game.

Kasatkina is yet to drop a set and has conceded just 14 out of his four matches at Roland Garros so far.

“I have become much more mature,” said the 25-year-old. She added: “With the decisions on the pitch, with my time management off the pitch as well, I’m trying to be more focused on what I’m doing, which is important, not the *** bulls, let’s say .

“It’s very difficult to maintain concentration and it’s very easy to lose it. So I work a lot to be more focused on my job.”


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