WILL EVANS’ daily preview serves up French Open tips for the first semi-final between top seed Iga Swiatek and Daria Kasatkina, who is in the last four of a grand slam for the first time.
23:00 (AEST), Thu 2nd Jun @ Stade de Roland Garros, Paris
History: Played 4: Swiatek 3 V Kasatkina 1
Last meeting: Doha Open, 2022 (R16): Swiatek d Kasatkina 6-3 6-0
Final Thoughts: Iga Swiatek’s march to a universally expected French Open triumph is firmly back on track after a dominant 6-3 6-2 quarter-final defeat of in-form 11th seed Jessica Pegula.
The world No.1 had been slightly off against unheralded pair Danka Kovinic (6-3 7-5) and Qinwen Zheng, who she dropped the first set to before powering to a comfortable victory as Zheng struggled with cramps.
But 2020 French Open champ Swiatek was outstanding in the quarters, riding out brief periods of resistance from Pegula to record her 33rd consecutive win.
Daria Kasatkina made the French Open and Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2018 but is into her first grand slam semi. The 20th seed stormed into the last four with remarkable ease, losing a maximum of five games and dropping a total of two games on serve in her first four matches.
Fellow Russian and 29th seed Veronika Kudermetova tested her in the quarters, but Kasatkina came away with a 6-4 7-6 victory. Her serve was a concern in that match, however, winning only 55 percent of her service points.
Busy recent rivalry favours Swiatek
The pair first met at last year’s grass-court Eastbourne International, with Kasatkina carving out a 4-6 6-0 6-1 win. But Swiatek has notched three emphatic hard-court victories over Kasatkina this year – 6-2 6-3 at the Australian Open, 6-1 6-2 at the Dubai Championships and 6-3 6-0 at the Doha Open.
The consistent Kasatkina has a kitbag ideally suited to clay-court tennis, but lacks the X-factor and power – qualities her opponent has in bucketloads – to hit through the likes of Swiatek. She’ll put up a good fight to cap a watershed fortnight at Roland Garros, but Swiatek should ultimately get the job done comfortably.