Paris - Yulia Putintseva knows the odds are
stacked against her as she prepares to face Serena Williams in the French Open
"She's a legend," Putintseva said
of the top-ranked American. "I have nothing to lose, obviously, against her.
I'm just going to go and play. What else can I do?"
The 21-year-old Putintseva, ranked 60th, is
an outsider, to say the least.
- Williams has 70 career titles; she has
- Williams has amassed around $76 million
in career prize money, while Putintseva is close to making her first million.
- Williams is chasing her 22nd major
championship, which would tie her with Steffi Graf in the Open era and move her
within two of Margaret Court's all-time record. But this is Putintseva's first
Grand Slam quarterfinal, and she had never previously advanced past the third
round at any major.
The 34-year-old Williams beat her in their
two previous meetings: in the third round at Indian Wells this year and in the
second round of the Madrid Masters in 2013.
The matches followed the same pattern. She
pushed Williams to a tiebreaker in the first set and got routed in the second,
winning only one game combined.
But Putintseva made a good impression on
Williams, who sees a similar fighting spirit in the Kazakh player.
"I feel like she gives 200 percent on
every single point," Williams said. "I'm a little bit that way
myself, too. I give everything on every point. I'm a fighter."
Perhaps that's also down to the fact
Putintseva used to train at Mouratoglou Academy in Paris - run by Patrick
Mouratoglou, who is now Williams' coach.
Neither has dropped a set so far at
rain-soaked Roland Garros.
Because of rain delays wreaking havoc with
scheduling, both players will be playing back-to-back days after winning their
fourth-round matches Wednesday.
Williams does not mind that too much,
comparing it to when she plays in regular tournaments.
"It's something you just get used
to," she said. "It's totally fine, I think, for me and for
There was so much rain that no matches were
played Monday and only two completed on Tuesday - which has caused some
inconvenience for Putintseva.
"I was waiting for like two or three
days for my fourth-round match," she said. "I had to change my hotel,
as well, because my reservation finished. But I'm happy that the time I waited
was worth it."
No Kazakh player has advanced to a singles
semi-final at a major before.
Should Putintseva cause a huge upset, she
would then face either Dutch player Kiki Bertens or No 8-seeded Timea
Bacsinszky, the hard-hitting Swiss player who pushed Williams to three sets in
last year's semi-finals.
Ranked just two places higher than
Putintseva, and also unseeded, the 24-year-old Bertens is playing in her first
major quarterfinal. She went out in the first round in Paris last year.
Bacsinszky won their only meeting in the
first round of the US Open two years ago, but that match ended with Bertens
retiring in the second set.
"She was feeling sick on court,"
Bacsinszky said. "She's a fierce opponent on clay. I'm not surprised that
she has made it so far."