The unseeded Japanese pair of Eri Hozumi and Makoto Ninomiya advanced to the final four of the women's doubles at the French Open on Wednesday, beating top seeds Timea Babod and Kristina Mladenovic 7-6(4), 6-3 in the quarterfinals.
Their victory over the Australian Open champions marks the first time in 16 years a Japanese team has booked a place in the semifinals at Roland Garros, with Ai Sugiyama and Rika Fujiwara being the last to accomplish the feat.
"I tried not to let them have it easy. I can't get over the excitement. We've come this far so I want to break through the semifinal wall and make it to the final," Hozumi said after the 1 hour, 44 minute match.
"It helped that we won the opening set. They had more chances but we took (that set), and that created momentum. I think we inflicted damage on our opponents. I want to get past the last four," Ninomiya said.
On Wednesday, Hozumi and Ninomiya bounced back from 3-5 down in the first set against the Hungary-France duo, turning the tide with a service break in the ninth game and Ninomiya delivering an unreturnable forehand volley to clinch the tiebreaker.
Last year, Hozumi and Miyu Kato together reached the doubles semifinals at the Australian Open, while Ninomiya partnered with Czech Renata Voracova when she made her semifinal appearance at Wimbledon.
Hozumi and Ninomiya will face No. 8 seeds Chan Hao-ching of Taiwan and Yang Zhaoxuan of China in the semis.
No Japanese pair has reached the women's doubles final in a Grand Slam event.