• Iga Swiatek v Nadia Podoroska [Q]
  • Sofia Kenin [4] v Petra Kvitova [7]
PARIS, FRANCE – A spot in their maiden Roland Garros Slam final awaits one of the final four, with two intriguing semi-finals.

 

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Iga Swiatek v Nadia Podoroska [Q] | First Meeting

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Iga Swiatek is no stranger to the deep end of a Slam. She was upended by Simona Halep last year in the fourth round, and she spectacularly reversed that dynamic this year. Still a teenager, she talks engagingly about high school, her love of old rock (and lately… jazz) but will also say upfront that when the teenagers were running riot at Roland Garros last year, she is relieved she ran up against an inspired Halep.

“I’m really glad that I wasn’t in a final of French Open last year because I think the pressure would be too big. I like that I have time to grow up.”

After delivering a performance of real maturity against the top seed, tournament favourite and world No. 2, Swiatek backed it up ably with her win over qualifier Martina Trevisan, and will find herself up against another qualifier on a dream journey this year in Nadia Podoroska.

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The Argentine is currently on a 13 match winning streak that has proved to be mightily unlucky for everyone in her path. She had a solid start to the year on the ITF level tournaments reaching two finals and a semi-finals in her first three tournaments. Once the tournaments restarted through, she has been on the clay exclusively with no jaunt out to the US hard-courts and that stands her in good stead here.

She said, after beating the No. 3 seed Elina Svitolina in straight sets: “Fortunately I completely fresh. I don’t have any pain or any problem in my body. The week before Roland Garros, I also won a tournament. I played five more matches in a row. Fortunately I’m good.

“During all this year I’ve been playing so, so good. I have a lot of confidence. I think it was good to have too many matches in this year. It’s helping me a lot.”

Swiatek has been getting the court time in as well, but here in both the singles and the doubles. Apart from a ponderous serve, she is solid from the back of the court, happy to come in and moves very well indeed, forcing Halep constantly to play an extra ball and rushing the more experienced player.

Podoroska has a forehand with a lot of topspin and like many who have made their mark in this autumnal edition of Roland Garros, she is very nifty with the odd drop-shot.

It has been one hell of a ride for the Argentine, but experience and more importantly a sense of having grown up a lot in the 18 months since she was here last, the favourite has to be the Pole.

Prediction: Swiatek in straight sets.

 

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Sofia Kenin [4] v Petra Kvitova [7] | Kvitova leads 2-0

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Two-time Slam champion Petra Kvitova has been efficiently going about her business at Roland Garros this year and has yet to drop a set. Even her toughest round so far in the third round to Leylah Fernandez, she came from behind to stamp her authority on the match, just playing her game and paying no heed at all to this clay-stuff under her feet.

Not one for sliding, she negotiated the potentially tricky banana skin of Laura Siegemund in an unseasonably warm day in Paris, and while there was a lot of emotion after the quarter-finals, there was a sense of determination in those steely blue eyes.

She said, after her match: “I’m pretty proud of everything I did today. Since I wake up today, I felt pretty nervous. Going to the match I knew it will be big fight about every point. She’s very tricky opponent, she has lots of variety in her game, and I knew it will be very tough. Of course, playing quarterfinal of the Grand Slam, it’s nothing easy with the nerves as well. I’m pretty happy about my side, of mental side and about how I handle it, the pressure out there, as well.”

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She will face Sofia Kenin who came out on top of an all-American quarter-final against Danielle Collins. Given that Kenin is not averse to the odd holler and fist-pump it was a strangely more focussed Kenin against an eventually more vocal Collins.

After the match Kenin said: “It’s not going to be an easy matchup. She’s had two sets, but we’ll see what’s going to happen tomorrow. Obviously, I’m not going to overpower her since I’m not going to be able to. But I’ve got different things I can throw in to mix things up.

“I feel like I’m playing a lot, I’m playing a good amount of matches, I’m obviously loving the clay. I’m just going to do everything I can to take to my advantage.”

Kvitova has been able to translate that tricky leftie game to this cold and claggy surface, and the weigh of her shots off both wings has already been flagged up by Kenin as a problem area. However, she also managed to handle the tricky variety from Siegemund, so Kenin might find herself scampering around all over the place to try and shift Kvitova off her axis.

Against Collins, her previous encounters with Kenin were back in the ITF days, but her two matches against Kvitova, the latest being in Madrid last year) have all gone Kvitova’s way. The clay and the atmosphere in Madrid are very different to the sea level clay in Paris, but there is a determination in Kvitova, who last year was edged out in Australia in the hunt for a third Slam title.

Prediction: Kvitova in three sets.

The women’s semi-finals start at 3pm (2pm BST).

 

 

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