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By Pritha Sarkar
PARIS, June 4 There is something about feeling the soft clay under her soles that makes Sara Errani stand 10 feet tall at Roland Garros as the diminutive Italian toppled Polish fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4 7-6(6) to reach the semi-finals on Tuesday.
A year after reaching her debut grand slam final at the French Open, Errani once again proved that her 1.64 metre stature would not stall her from chasing her dreams in a sport awash with powerfully built athletes.
However, if Errani wants to fulfil her lifelong goal of lifting the Suzanne Lenglen Cup, she will have to stop an unstoppable force called Serena Williams when the duo meet in the semi-finals. The American world number one is currently on a 29-match winning streak.
On Tuesday, though, Errani was all smiles as she finally secured her first ever win over a top five player.
"I knew it would be a battle against Agnieszka and I was ready for that. It's unbelievable. There was a lot of pressure this year but I made it good," fifth seed Errani said in a courtside interview.
A quarter-final showdown between the world's fourth and fifth best players should have been played out in front of a full house on Philippe Chatrier Court but as has become a common sight at this year's tournament, battle commenced in front of rows and rows of empty seats.
Errani's prolific work ethic this year - her 81 matches are almost double that of anyone else in the top 10 - paid off as she flummoxed Radwanska with an array of ferocious forehands, delightful dropshots and luscious lobs.
Radwanska accessorised her pink and maroon dress with a colour co-ordinated foot long plaster along her thigh. While there seemed to be nothing wrong with her movement, the same could not be said about her body language.
She looked irritated after an Errani netcord trickled over, slapped her racket after producing a double fault on break point, and sucked her cheeks in when yet another unforced error flew off her racket.
The second set alone featured eight breaks and although Radwanska won the point of the match - a 27-shot rally on Errani's first match point - the Italian was not about to let victory slip through her slender fingers.
Moments later Errani was tossing her racket into the air and raising her arms in triumph after Radwanska whipped a backhand into the tramlines. (Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Justin Palmer)
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