Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Swiatek proves the anxiom

It's a well-accepted reality that champions find a way to win even when they aren't playing well. Iga Swiatek, during her last two French Open matches, has proven that axiom. In her round of 16 match against Zheng Qinwen, the 2020 French Open champion and top seed dropped her first set (5-7, in a tiebreak). She then won the next two sets 6-0 and 6-2. On paper, that looks like the result of a really solid performance, but that first set exposed a more vulnerable Swiatek than we saw in earlier matches.

Today, in the quarterfinals, Swiatek faced Jessie Pegula, whom she had defeated earlier this year in Miami. Again, the Polish star was more prone to error that she was in the first week of the tournament, and some of her shots lacked the commitment that we expect from her. Nevertheless, she defeated Pegula 6-3, 6-2, and in doing so, won her thirty-third straight match.

Swiatek's recent total domination of her opponents has probably warped our ability to look at her objectively: 6-3, 6-2 in a major quarterfinal is a great score! Iga Swiatek is, after all, human. She may be tired, both physically and mentally. The most important element in this story is that she won both matches. 

Next for Swiatek, in the semifinals, is Dasha Kasatkina, who--having an endured a lengthy slump--has yet to drop a set, and who is on fire at Roland Garros. Today, she defeated countrywoman Veronka Kudermetova 6-4, 7-6 in the quarterfinals. Down 1-5 in the second set tiebreak, Kudermetova won four straight points, and--for a while--it looked like we might get a third set, but Kasatkina came through.

Yesterday, Martina Trevisan won her quarterfinal match against Leylah Fernandez, who struggled with a foot issue throughout the match, yet was still able to challenge Trevisan quite a bit, and to take her to three sets. Trevisan was a quarterfinalist in 2020, but failed to advance when she was defeated by--all together now!--Iga Swiatek.

Finally, Coco Gauff defeated 2018 runner-up Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-2.

Here is the semifinal draw:

Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Daria Kasatkina (20)
Martina Trevisan vs. Coco Gauff (18)

In women's doubles, an all-USA semifinal will be played. 8th seeds Coco Gauff and Jessie Pegula will play Madison Keys and Taylor Townsend. In the other match, 14th seeds Lyudmyla Kichenok and Alona Ostapenko will play Caroline Garcia and Kiki Mladenovic.

In wheelchair singles (with a bigger draw this year), top seed and defending champion Diede De Groot has advanced to the semifinals, in which she will play 4th seed Kgothatso Montjane. In the other semifinal, 3rd seed Aniek Van Koot will compete against 2nd seed Yui Kamiji.

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