French Open: Iga Swiatek into semifinals, extends win streak

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Iga Swiatek is into the French Open semifinals on a 33-match win streak, extending the longest unbeaten run on the WTA Tour in nine years.

Swiatek, the world No. 1 from Poland who turned 21 on Tuesday, swept 11th-ranked American Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-2 in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. She advanced to a Thursday semifinal against 20th-ranked Russian Daria Kasatkina, who dispatched countrywoman Veronika Kudermatova 6-4, 7-6 (5) earlier Wednesday.

“It was my most solid match here,” said Swiatek, who showed rare signs of vulnerability in her previous match, a three-set win over China’s Zheng Qinwen. “From A to Z I was pretty focused, and I didn’t let Jessica come back.”

Later Wednesday, Croatian Marin Cilic beat Russian Andrey Rublev 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2) to give him a semifinal at all four Grand Slams. Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion, plays Norwegian Casper Ruud in Friday’s semifinals.

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Kasatkina, who hasn’t dropped a set all tournament, is 0-3 against Swiatek this year, without taking more than five games in a single match, but all of the previous meetings were on hard courts.

“OK, I lost those matches, but was a different story,” Kasatkina said. “It was a hard court, beginning of the year. I was not in the same shape as I am now.

“For me it’s better to face her on clay.”

Thursday’s other semifinal pits 23rd-ranked American Coco Gauff against 59th-ranked Italian Martina Trevisan.

Swiatek is on the WTA Tour’s longest win streak since Serena Williams won 34 in a row in 2013. If Swiatek wins her second Roland Garros title in two years, she will be at 35 matches, the longest undefeated run since Venus Williams also won 35 in a row in 2000. Before that, Martina Hingis won 37 in a row in 1997.

“I try to take only positive stuff from it, but for sure there is a lot of pressure,” Swiatek said on Tennis Channel. “I want to really play without any expectations. It’s hard, but I’m working on it.”

In a rare misstep this spring, Swiatek signed a camera after the match, “Getting old but still fresh #22,” before correcting the number of her age.

“I signed the camera but I forgot how old I am,” she said. “I don’t know why, but that’s how my brain sometimes works after matches like that.”

For the second consecutive year, Swiatek was the lone top-10 women’s seed to make the quarterfinals in Paris. These are the only two times in the Open Era that one top-10 seed made the women’s quarterfinals of a major.

“I feel like I’ve proven myself,” in the last year, said Swiatek, who became the first Polish No. 1 after Ash Barty‘s shock retirement in March. “The sky’s the limit for me, so I feel more free right now.

“This tournament, it’s a Grand Slam, so it’s tough. I think only underdogs can feel more free on Grand Slams.”

Pegula, a 28-year-old whose parents own the Buffalo Bills, was bidding to become the highest-ranked American woman for the first time.

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