Iga celebrates turning 21 with another trip to semis

The world No.1 needed just 89 minutes to soar into the final four, where she meets Kasatkina

Iga Swiatek, quart de finale, Roland-Garros 2022©Cedric Lecocq / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Another challenger swept aside, Iga Swiatek is just two matches away from reclaiming her Roland-Garros crown.

The 2020 champion toasted her 21st birthday on Tuesday and celebrated by extending her winning streak to 33 matches with a commanding 6-3, 6-2 victory over Jessica Pegula on Wednesday.

The world No.1 returns to the semi-finals with world No.20 Daria Kasatkina standing in her path.

Thursday will witness Swiatek's third career Grand Slam semi-final appearance and her second of the year.

Story of the match 

Once again Swiatek made a fast start, skipping to the backhand corner to unleash an inside-out forehand winner for an immediate break.

With the Pole racing 40-0 up, it looked like world No.11 Pegula was in for a torrid time on Court Philippe-Chatrier, but the American dug in and claimed five successive points to rebound for 1-all. An eight-minute hold later and Pegula was on the front foot.

Not quite. Swiatek capped a riveting rally with a cross-court backhand winner, moments before sprinkling in some true magic.

The 21-year-old chased what seemed to be a lost cause from a deft Pegula drop shot and mid-slide, nearly in the split position, directed the ball towards the umpire’s chair for a decisive 4-3 break.

The Pole was forcing Pegula into going for fine margins and a brace of forehands narrowly missed the mark, handing the top seed a one-set lead.

Pegula, competing in her third major quarter-final - and first one clay - clattered an inside-in backhand to keep in touch.

A crafty wrong-footing forehand capped a 26-shot rally for a rare break opportunity. But the forehand return slipped off radar just at the wrong time. Swiatek escaped and won three consecutive games to motor 4-1 in front.

Pegula was on the back foot too much, Swiatek converting her fourth match point with a slingshot backhand, raising her right arm up to the sky in celebration.

Key stats

The world No.1 scribbled her wrong age on the broadcast camera, but the most important number was 33 for the number of successive wins.

Swiatek stands alone as the third-longest streak this century on the WTA tour, which includes prevailing in 48 of her past 50 sets on court.

The 21-year-old (Not 22, Iga) enjoyed a successful afternoon at the net, winning 9/10 points up front.

She was also impressive on her second serve, winning 16/20 (75 per cent) of the points behind it, avoiding Jessica's punishing return game.

What the players said

“I guess flying wasn’t a good option, because she was playing so low. I actually needed to not fly,” joked Swiatek in her post-match interview. 

“It was really hard as sometimes she was changing the rhythm. I’m happy, I was playing with good dynamics and pushed her back a fair bit.”

Asked about her pre-match nerves, Swiatek quickly retorted: “Oh yeah I do, I think if I stop being nervous, something weird is going on, because there are always nerves, but stress can sometimes be a positive thing.

“It can make you more active and intense, so I try to use it that way to get my best performances.”