Iga Swiatek’s stat line so far:
- 40% first serves in
- 73% points won on first serve
- 73% points won on second serve
- 6/7 net points won
- 2/5 break points won
- 50% receiving points won
- 10 winners
- 12 unforced errors
Iga Swiatek takes the first set 6-2 against Nadia Podoroska
Simply a great set of tennis from the 19 year old, who is managing the pressure beautifully so far.
After another dominant return game, Swiatek reached 15-40 and double set point. On the first set point, the Pole tried to close things off with a drop shot, but there was far too much air beneath it and Podoroska easily swept it up with a forehand winner. Swiatek shanked a forehand on the second set point.
But Swiatek is so relentless and she bounced back immediately, pummelling the Podoroska backhand in successive points to elicit two forced errors and take the set.
First set: Iga Swiatek 5-2* Nadia Podoroska
The wind is swirling and there were quite a few gusts in this game that look absolutely horrible to play in, but there were no problems for Swiatek. She shrugged off the conditions by securing her first hold to love with more big hitting, sealed with another big serve and forehand combo.
First set: Iga Swiatek *4-2 Nadia Podoroska
A much easier hold from Podoroska, who again found joy by sweeping to the net after a big forehand and forcing Swiatek to make a passing shot, which she could not do. After a missed forehand from Swiatek at 30-15, Podoroska landed a big first serve, slotting away an inside-in forehand winner behind it.
This is the lowest-ranked slam semi-final in the open era and there is so much opportunity here, yet neither player looks nervous. Good work.
First set: Iga Swiatek 4-1* Nadia Podoroska
Swiatek saves a break point to retain her lead. A good effort from Podoroska, who used the momentum from her hold to mount an assault on return by attacking her forehand and moving forward behind it, At 30-30, all of that pressure from Podoroska showed as Swiatek threw in a poor dropshot to bring up break point.
However, from break point at 30-40 Podoroska just overhit a couple of forehands as she tried to take control of the rally first. Although she had the right intentions, the execution just wasn’t there. Gifted a game point, Swiatek did not waste it, cracking a lovely angled cross-court forehand to hold.
First set: Iga Swiatek *3-1 Nadia Podoroska
Podoroska gets on the board, and it took some effort. From 30-0, Swiatek pushed her way back to 30-30 with more huge ball striking. Podoroska responded at 30-30 with a sweet serve and forehand 1-2 punch before she was unable to capitalise, sending a smart drop shot attempt into the net.
At deuce, the Argentine demonstrated her excellent defence, chasing down a drop shot before a lob from Swiatek flew well long. On her second game point, Podoroska found a big unreturned serve to close it off.
First set: Iga Swiatek 3-0* Nadia Podoroska
Swiatek consolidates the break with few problems, holding to 15. This has been such a dominant start from 0-30 down in the opening. She served really well in this game, constantly allowing herself to find a big forehand right behind it. Podoroska hasn’t done too much wrong, but there is a big gulf in the pair’s weight of shot so far.
First set: Iga Swiatek *2-0 Nadia Podoroska
Swiatek takes the first break. After that tight opening game, Swiatek has already found her stride and she is hitting so big from on top of the baseline, controlling the points. That was a brutal return game with two winners and two violent point-ending second serve returns.
First set: Iga Swiatek 1-0* Nadia Podoroska
Swiatek fell down 0-30 following an excellent 16 shot rally in which Podoroska responded to a creative backhand angle by Swiatek with a drop shot, eventually finishing with a sweet volley. Those first two points yielded a great response from the Pol, who crunched successive forehand winners.
At 40-30, Swiatek sent a forehand long, but Podoroska struck successive forehand return errors to hand the Pole her first hold. Both players have started extremely aggressively but conditions aren’t great. The wind is swirling.
Podoroska and Swiatek have entered Court Philippe Chatrier and are warming up. As usual, Swiatek has entered the court wearing some chunky headphones. This is her take on pre-match music:
“I often listen to music. Sometimes I’m listening to calm music when I need to calm down, like the adrenaline level is too high. Right now I was being kind of sleepy before match. Actually I wish I could say something new to you, but I was still listening to Guns N’ Roses Welcome to the Jungle because I want to keep my routines. Actually I wanted to change it because right now it’s kind of boring to listen every day to the same song. Yeah, I stayed with Guns N’ Roses because I wanted to win, yeah. That’s it.”
One interesting aspect of Iga Swiatek’s journey is that while so many of her peers received wildcards and opportunities as a junior, she does not come from a tennis country. She has received zero WTA wildcards in her career and she had to build her career with little help. She talked about this after her quarter-final:
Yeah, I mean, it was pretty annoying at the beginning. I just had to accept if you’re from, I don’t know, eastern or central Europe it may be kind of harder to get wild cards because we don’t have any big tournament in Poland and federation can’t switch wild cards.
As soon as I accepted that and as soon as I realized it’s going to be even better if I’m going to earned it on my own, I was okay with that. I just kept working. I knew that if I’m going to play well, it wouldn’t matter if I’m going to play quallies and play three more matches because you just have to, I don’t know, get the ranking points. If you’re top 50 you’re going to get to main draw to every tournament anyway.
Yeah, I just kept working hard. At the beginning it was pretty annoying, but later I didn’t care.
After her shock win over Elina Svitolina, Nadia Podoroska talked about the toughest moment of her career in 2017-2018:
Q. In Spanish a few days ago you said there was a period in your career when you weren’t sure if you were going to continue playing tennis. When was that? When has been the toughest part of your career?
NADIA PODOROSKA: Yeah, the toughest part for me was like two or three years ago. I had too many injuries. I’m drop my ranking. I been like eight months out of the tour. Then I didn’t have money to start playing tournaments. It was a very tough moment for me because I also change all my team. I’ve been working with my old coach for 10 years, then we broke our relationship. I was a little bit, like, I didn’t know what to do.
Both Iga Swiatek and Nadia Podoroska will be looking to take control in different ways. The most impressive thing about Swiatek’s game is just how complete her skill set already is. She has a solid and versatile serve, the angles and power she creates with her heavy topspin forehand can be devastating even though her backhand is more reliable. She also has great hands, which she showed against Halep with some sweet drop shots and a couple of lovely volleys, and she is a really good athlete. She can win points in so many different ways.
As she has developed, she has had to make sense of those skills and how to use them. In Paris, all of those facets of her game have finally come together at the same time and she has bulldozed opponents with her aggression and creativity.
Although Swiatek possesses bigger weapons, Podoroska demonstrated against Elina Svitolina how damaging her game can be against the best. She will constantly be looking for forehands, a shot that can both open the court with angles and end points for her. She will also look to disrupt Swiatek with ample drop shots.
Hello! Welcome to our coverage on day 12 of Roland Garros, which will see the women take centre stage with a pair of very interesting semi-finals. First up is the big surprise of the tournament as unseeded Iga Swiatek of Poland and qualifier Nadia Podoroska of Argentina will both contest their first career semifinal with so much opportunity on the line. Two slam champions will follow, with two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova taking on this year’s Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin,
The first semi-final will mark the first time since Justine Henin beat Zheng Jie in the 2010 Australian Open that a semi-final has been played between two unseeded players. Of course, Henin was an all-time great in the midst of a comeback and Zheng was a former top 20 player. Before that encounter, this last happened in 1983 when there were only 16 seeds. In other words, it doesn’t happen.
Although both the manner and swiftness of Swiatek’s rise in Paris this year has been a surprise, this was only a matter of time for the 19 year-old. Swiatek is a former junior number one, the 2018 Wimbledon girls singles champion and French Open doubles champion. She transitioned to the WTA tour with ease, breaking into the top 50 shortly after her fourth round run at Roland Garros last year. Although she faltered under the pressure there and lost 6-1 6-0 to Simona Halep in 45 minutes, she has consistently shown her potential against top players over the past year.
However, a talented young player would normally have a few more solid runs at big events before piecing together a run like this. Everything has come together for Swiatek in Paris: she has lost only 20 games so far, battering everyone in her path including the top seed and overwhelming tournament favourite Simona Halep, who she demolished 6-1 6-2 in the fourth round. Perhaps even more impressive was how she backed up that win in her quarter-final against qualifier Martina Trevisan, which she was also favourite to win. After a tight start, Swiatek reeled off 11 of the last 12 games from 1-3 down to take the win 6-3 6-1.
She will also be the clear favourite against Podoroska, but it remains to be seen how she will handle the nerves of this unfamiliar moment. Podoroska showed how dangerous she can be in the semi-final when she dismantled 3rd seed Elina Svitolina 6-2 6-4. Although only 23 years-old herself, Podoroska’s route to this semi-final could not have been more different. The Argentine has compiled an incredible 43-6 win-loss record this year, but primarily at lower level tournaments.
After winning two tournaments with a total of $25k prize money at the beginning of the year, Podoroska won a $60k event just a week before she started her Paris run. No matter where it happens, winning brings confidence and she has carried it through 3 wins in qualifying and 5 more in the main-draw. She had never faced a top 20 player before she stepped on court with Elina Svitolina. It didn’t matter.