Roland Garros semi-final preview: Iga Swiatek vs Daria Kasatkina
Iga Swiatek and Daria Kasatkina are two very different contenders in this year’s Roland Garros semi-finals.
The world number one and 2020 champion came into the second Slam of the year as heavy favourite to win the women’s title.
Therefore, anything less than this semi-final run would be a surprise from Swiatek.
Meanwhile, Kasatkina is enjoying her best ever appearance at a Major in the French capital.
Here, Tennishead takes a look at everything you should know before the Pole and the Russian do battle.
Slam pedigree at Roland Garros and beyond
As mentioned, Swiatek already has a Major title to her name.
She won the Covid-postponed Roland Garros 2020 in October of that year as an unseeded 19-year-old.
In a little over a year and a half since, Swiatek reached the quarter-finals in Paris last year as defending champion before a 2022 Australian Open campaign that ended in the semi-finals.
Moreover, as soon as Ash Barty announced her retirement in March, the Pole has been the dominant force in women’s tennis.
Kasatkina had moderate Major success when she was Swiatek’s age at 21, but has not hit the same heights since, until now.
She reached consecutive Slam quarter-finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon 2018.
However, she had not been beyond the third round of a Slam in any of her 13 appearances in the nearly four years before Roland Garros 2022.
Form entering Roland Garros and in Paris
Swiatek is in the form of her life and arguably the best form of any woman at any point in the 21st century.
She has won four of the five WTA 1000 titles contested so far this year, plus the 500 Stuttgart Open to boot.
Swiatek has taken those five titles with a win-loss record of 38-3 on the season before Paris.
In 2022, she has only lost in Adelaide, at the Australian Open and in Dubai.
She has dropped just one set en route to the last four this fortnight, that to Chinese youngster Zheng Qinwen in the fourth round.
Most notably, by reaching the semi-finals Swiatek has extended her astounding win streak to 33 victories and counting.
Only Venus Williams recorded a longer streak on the WTA tour this century.
She won 35 matches in a row back in 2000, a tally Swiatek will match should she clinch the title this week.
Kasatkina has enjoyed a respectable win-loss record of 18-10 ahead of Roland Garros, but came into the French capital without a title so far this year.
Over the three clay event she played ahead of Paris, the Russian improved gradually in her results.
She reached the second round in Stuttgart, the third round in Madrid before a run to the last four in Rome, only losing to Madrid champion Ons Jabeur there.
Surprisingly, Kasatkina has been more clinical than Swiatek on her run to the semis.
She has won all her first five matches in straight sets, only once being pushed beyond 6-4 in a set.
Head-to-head: Swiatek 3-1 Kasatkina
Swiatek and Kasatkina have met four times previously at WTA tour level and once at a Major.
Their first encounter came at Eastbourne last year, with Kasatkina prevailing on the grass from a set down.
Swiatek has had her number in their ensuing three clashes.
She won each in straight sets, including a third round showdown at this year’s Australian Open.
Their most recent match-up saw Kasatkina suffer a 6-3, 6-0 drubbing in the last 16 of the Qatar Open, a WTA 1000 event Swiatek went on to win.
What the Roland Garros greats think
Eurosport tennis experts Mats Wilander and Alex Corretja have both given their thoughts ahead of the match.
Three-time Roland Garros champion Wilander has firmly backed Swiatek.
He said: “Kasatkina has got the instruments to make Swiatek beat herself.
“But she doesn’t have the shots to hurt her.
“There may be an opening if Swiatek panics, but I don’t see that happening.”
Former world number two and two-time Paris finalist Corretja agrees that Swiatek will determine proceedings.
He said: “When you win so many matches, everybody respects you.
“Swiatek will dictate a lot.”
What the players think
Despite their disparate statuses in the tournament and on tour, both women spoke similarly of nerves and pressure after their quarter-final wins.
After downing compatriot Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), Kasatkina said: “You could see that the match was really nervy and tight.
“Especially the tiebreak, the last few points were super tight.
“It’s a very important win for me and I’m happy to be in the semi-finals for the first time.”
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 1, 2022
After ousting Jessica Pegula 6-3, 6-2, Swiatek was asked by Corretja if she still gets nervous before matches despite being so dominant recently.
She responded: “I do.
“I think when I stop being nervous it’s going to mean that something weird is going on.
“Because there are always nerves.”
The Pole then pivoted to explain how she is able to harness those feelings into positive results.
She added: “The thing is sometimes stress is a positive thing.
“It can make you more active and more tense so you can really play your best performance.
“So I try to use it that way.”
“I forgot how old I am.”
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) June 1, 2022
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