By Karolos Grohmann
PARIS (Reuters) – Top seed Iga Swiatek will look to book her third French Open final spot in four years when she takes on Brazilian outsider Beatriz Haddad Maia in their semi-final on Thursday.
With the men having a rest day before their own semi-finals on Friday, all eyes will be on the 22-year-old Pole who won the title in 2020 and 2022 and is odds-on favourite to win it again.
But she will need to be careful, having lost to the Brazilian in Toronto last year in three sets. The 27-year-old Haddad Maia eliminated seventh seed Ons Jabeur on Wednesday to reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.
“For sure she’s the fighter, and she showed even today that she’s fighting until the last ball. It pays off,” Swiatek said of her next opponent.
“For sure you have to kind of be ready even when you feel like you’re leading or whatever. You have to play every point 100%,” she said.
“We played in Toronto, and I would say actually this was one of the matches that had similar conditions in terms of the wind. It was also windy that day.”
Conditions have been windy in Paris, especially on Court Philippe Chatrier, since the start of the major 10 days ago.
“Obviously the surface is different, so we’ll see. I’ve never played against her on clay. Again, as before any other match, I will focus on myself and what I want to do on court.”
In the other semi-final word number two Aryna Sabalenka takes on unseeded Czech Karolina Muchova, whose dream run to the last four follows her run to the 2021 Australian Open semi-final before an abdominal injury sidelined her and caused her ranking to plummet.
After battling back into the top 50, Muchova, ranked 43rd, will now have another mountain to climb to reach a first ever Slam final, with Sabalenka playing the best tennis of her career.
The Belarusian had refused earlier in the tournament to answer questions about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and her country’s role as a staging ground for Russian troops and weapons and skipped two press conferences.
But media scrutiny eased on Tuesday after she took a stand against the war and against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion, will take the number one spot from Swiatek if she lifts the title in Paris.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis)
Brought to you by www.srnnews.com