Swiatek back in French Open semifinals without dropping a set

Paris, Jun 7 (EFE).- Polish world No. 1 Iga Swiatek advanced to the French Open semifinals for the third time in the last four years on Wednesday, brushing aside American Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-2 in just under an hour and a half.

In a rematch of last year’s Roland Garros final, Swiatek came out firing from the baseline to grab an early service break, but the sixth-seeded Gauff answered with a break of her own to even the first set at 3-3.

A key turning point came in the 10th game when the world No. 1 claimed the opening set with an impressive display of power baseline tennis, including a forehand winner on set point.

Then, with Gauff serving at 2-3 in the second set, Swiatek put her underrated defensive skills on display.

In the first point of that game she ran wide on the backhand side and placed the ball at the feet of the American, who was unable to execute a half volley near the net.

A few points later, the top seed grabbed a 4-2 lead with an offensive lob that Gauff chased down and got her racket on but was unable to return.

In the final game of the match, Swiatek showcased nearly her entire arsenal, striking a forehand winner on one point, striking a backhand passing shot on another and ending the contest with a powerful forehand return of serve that forced a forehand error from Gauff.

With her latest victory, the 2020 and 2022 champion has not lost a set and has yet to give up more than four games in any set thus far in the tournament.

She won four of those sets 6-0, including a double-bagel thrashing of China’s Wang Xinyu in the third round.

“I’m pretty happy to be in the semifinal again of Roland Garros,” Swiatek said in the post-match press conference. “It’s a great achievement no matter how the tournament is going to finish. … I’m really happy I can show consistency and just play good here every year.”

Her next opponent on Thursday will be No. 14 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia, who defeated seventh-seeded Tunisian Ons Jabeur 3-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-1 to become the first Brazilian woman in the Open Era (dating back to 1968) to reach the semifinals of tennis’ clay-court Grand Slam.

“I think it was one of the biggest and special wins for me, also because Jabeur is a player that I respect a lot,” Haddad Maia said afterward.

“It’s very tough to come and go for it because one thing is to win a set, one thing is to have 5-3 and serve, and one thing is to go and win the match. I was very proud, and I think my face showed that, I think, hard working, it works sometimes.”

In men’s quarterfinal action on Wednesday, German No. 22 seed Alexander Zverev used his strong first serve to defeat Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Little separated the two players, but Zverev’s high 67 percent first-serve percentage and 76 percent winning percentage on first-serve points gave him a slight advantage and booked him a spot in the French Open semifinals for the third straight year.

Last year, Zverev was locked in a tight semifinal contest at Stade Roland Garros against Spanish great and eventual champion Rafael Nadal when he suffered a gruesome ankle injury and was forced to retire from the match.

In Wednesday’s final men’s quarterfinal contest, No 4 seed Casper Ruud of Norway, last year’s French Open runner-up, defeated sixth-seeded Dane Holger Rune 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

Rune committed an extremely high 30 unforced errors in just 15 games to go down two sets to love.

He improved his level considerably in the latter part of the match and showed his fiery competitive spirit, but Ruud held his nerve and played a solid and efficient fourth set to clinch the victory. EFE


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