Iga Swiatek maintained her dominance both at Roland Garros and in her personal battles with Coco Gauff as she returned to the French Open semi-finals for the third time in her young career. A rematch of last year’s final yielded a similar result as Swiatek, the defending champion, extended her head-to-head with Gauff to 7-0 with a 6-4, 6-2 win.
Swiatek will next face Beatriz Haddad Maia, the 14th seed, for a place in the final after Haddad Maia recovered from a set down to defeat Ons Jabeur 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-1 and reach her first grand slam semi-final.
Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka, who will play the unseeded Czech Karolina Muchova, are a round away from facing each other in a monumental final.
While matches between Swiatek and Gauff – the world No 1 versus the best teenager in the world – are exciting on paper, their contests have been incredibly one-sided so far in reality. Swiatek, owner of the heaviest forehand in the game, has spent much of the past 12 months eviscerating Gauff’s forehand and she has now won all 18 sets.
To Gauff’s credit, she showed her adaptability by making significant adjustments to her tactics. While she was unusually aggressive with her return of serve and she used her drop shot well, the biggest shift was how she constantly threw up high, loopy forehands.
In the swirling wind, Swiatek was initially unsure of whether to take the no-pace balls early or shuffle far behind the baseline until the ball dropped. As she tried to hit through Gauff’s excellent defence, Swiatek frequently overhit. “I was surprised because when I was playing against the wind, sometimes these forehands were just stopping, and you had to work twice to kind of get to them,” said Swiatek.
The pair found themselves at 4-4, 30-30 on Swiatek’s serve in a tight first set. But just as it looked close, Swiatek found her range, Gauff missed a few forehands and the top seed flitted through the set.
Gauff presented herself with some opportunities early in the second set, but Swiatek’s far greater weaponry off both wings allowed her to easily pull away and quickly seal her victory. Despite her efforts to solve Swiatek, Gauff still left with just six games and she was comprehensively outplayed. The defeat reinforced the gulf between them.
“Obviously you lose to someone seven times, you feel crappy,” said Gauff. “It’s not fun at all, but also, every time I play her, I’m not thinking about the previous record. I treat it as a new opportunity every single time, and I think that’s the best way to do it. If I go in believing that I lost the match before it already happens, then I’m never going to win. But when it’s over, yeah, it does suck.”
For Swiatek, her remarkable progress continues. She is into her third French Open semi-final and she now stands two wins away from a third title. Swiatek is a remarkable 26-2 (93 per cent) in Paris.
“I’m pretty happy to be in the semi-final again at Roland Garros,” said Swiatek. “It’s a great achievement no matter how the tournament is going to finish. Semi-final is really great result. Especially coming into the tournament as a defending champion, it puts a lot of pressure on you.”
Earlier, Haddad Maia continued her historic run through the draw. Haddad Maia was being comprehensively outplayed by Jabeur, the seventh seed, but she fought hard and kept herself in contention, eventually flipping the tense three-set match around. Haddad Maia is the first Brazilian woman since Maria Bueno in 1968 to reach a grand slam semi-final. – Guardian