Monday, July 15, 2024

Iga Swiatek outclasses Coco Gauff to reach French Open semi-finals

French Open semi-finals
Iga Swiatek celebrates after winning against Coco Gauff. — AFP

Paris, June 7: Defending champion Iga Swiatek secured her spot in the French Open semi-finals with a convincing victory over Coco Gauff. This clash served as a rematch of last year’s final, and Swiatek, the top seed, once again displayed her dominance, winning the match 6-4, 6-2.
With this win, Swiatek, currently ranked as the world number one, further enhanced her exceptional record at Roland Garros, standing at an impressive 26-2. Her victory against the talented 19-year-old Gauff marked the seventh consecutive triumph for Swiatek in their head-to-head encounters.
Having showcased her prowess on the clay courts of Paris, Swiatek now sets her sights on the semi-finals, where she will face Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia.
Swiatek has adopted a more ruthless approach to her title defence dishing out four bagels in as many rounds but the Pole found the going tougher against a determined Gauff in the see-sawing opening set on Court Philippe Chatrier.
After drawing first blood, she allowed Gauff to hit back and level up at 3-3 by crashing a volley into the net before getting back on track to take the advantage in the clash with a superb crosscourt winner.
The relieved 22-year-old pumped her fist and let out a big scream after that decisive point.
Swiatek took a tumble at the net after nearly being struck by a Gauff rocket before producing a tight hold for a 2-1 lead in the next set and dusted herself off to grab another break with a perfectly placed lob.
She settled the contest by pouncing on Gauff’s serve again and finished when the 19-year-old found the net.
Haddad Maia fights back to enter French Open last 4, becomes first Brazilian woman since 1968 in Grand Slam semi-final
In a heartbreaking turn of events, Ons Jabeur, the seventh seed, saw her aspirations of becoming the first African woman to win a singles Grand Slam slip away on Wednesday as she suffered a 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 defeat at the hands of Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the quarter-finals of the French Open in Paris.
The Brazilian athlete’s achievement is noteworthy as she becomes the first Brazilian woman since Maria Bueno in 1968 to reach a Slam semi-final. Moreover, she etched her name in history as the first female player from her country to secure a spot in the semi-finals at Roland Garros during the Open Era.
Jabeur, who had set her sights on reaching her third Grand Slam semi-final in less than a year, faced a determined challenge from the 14th-seeded left-hander. Haddad Maia displayed immense resilience, mounting a remarkable comeback to secure her own maiden appearance in the last four of a Grand Slam.
“In the middle of the second set my coach showed me the clock,” Haddad Maia said. “I had to be patient and keep doing the shots because she (Jabeur) is a pretty good player, one of the best in the world.”
“So I am proud of me and my team today because it is not easy playing her. You think you have another shot to play (in a rally) but then drop shot, winner. I always believed that the match is long.”
The last Brazilian to win a singles crown at the French Open was Gustavo Kuerten, who claimed his third Roland Garros men’s title in 2001.
The Tunisian contender initially gained momentum, breaking her opponent’s serve early on and showcasing her powerful groundstrokes. With Haddad Maia struggling to counter Jabeur’s flat groundstrokes, the former Wimbledon and US Open finalist seized an advantageous position.
However, the tables turned when Haddad Maia altered her strategy, opting to run Jabeur around the court. Jabeur, known for her effective drop shots, utilised this weapon to her advantage, quickly establishing a 4-1 lead.
Eventually, Jabeur secured the first set, with Haddad Maia committing an error by sending a forehand wide on the crucial set point.
Both players maintained their serve without facing any break points until a critical juncture at 5-5. Jabeur held a 40-15 advantage on Haddad Maia’s serve but failed to convert either of the opportunities. Similarly, Haddad Maia squandered a chance in the subsequent game, but ultimately triumphed by winning the tiebreak.
In the decisive third set, Haddad Maia surged ahead with a commanding 5-1 lead, capitalizing on Jabeur’s errant forehand on match point.
It was a bitter defeat for Jabeur, who had shown tremendous promise throughout the tournament. As for Haddad Maia, she now sets her sights on the semi-finals, ready to etch her name further into the annals of Brazilian tennis history.
(ToI With Reuters Inputs)