Swiatek fends off Haddad Maia to make third RG final

Polish top seed advances in straight sets and retains No.1 ranking

Iga Swiatek, Roland-Garros 2023, semi-final© Philippe Montigny/FFT
 - Simon Cambers

Defending champion Iga Swiatek booked her place in the Roland-Garros final for the third time in four years after she ended the surprise run of 14th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia, beating the Brazilian 6-2, 7-6(7) on Thursday.

The Pole had to come from a break down in each set and saved a set point in the second-set tiebreak as she won through to a final against unseeded Czech Karolina Muchova, who edged out No.2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in a three-set thriller earlier in the day. The win also ensured Swiatek will remain world No.1 after the tournament.

Story of the match

Haddad Maia had played four straight three-setters, including the longest women’s match of the year (3 hours, 51 minutes) and spent more than seven hours extra on court than Swiatek on her way to the semi-finals. But there were no signs of fatigue as she flashed three forehand winners to break in the opening game.

The first Brazilian woman in the semi-finals in Paris since Maria Bueno in 1966, the left-handed Haddad Maia had beaten Swiatek in their only previous meeting, in Toronto last year, and was causing the world No.1 problems early on, much to the delight of the former champion, Gustavo Kuerten, watching on in the stands.

But Swiatek quickly found her feet and her range on her groundstrokes, breaking back immediately and then, at 3-2, showing incredible court coverage to chase down several shots from Haddad Maia that looked like being winners. The pressure eventually told as the Brazilian put a drop shot in the net to give Swiatek a 4-2 lead.

Beatriz Haddad Maia, Roland-Garros 2023, semi-final© Philippe Montigny/FFT

Haddad Maia continued to try to attack the Swiatek serve, standing well inside the baseline to receive and hammering winners. But Swiatek also served smartly, into the body at big moments, and then found the open court with her groundstrokes.

A quick hold consolidated the break and Swiatek then sealed the set after 39 minutes when Haddad Maia sent a backhand over the baseline.

The Brazilian forced a break point in the opening game of the second set but the top seed saved it with a good kick serve.

But Haddad Maia was still asking the question and a rare poor forehand from Swiatek set up another break point at 1-1 and this time the No.14 seed took it as a backhand landed just long. Haddad Maia consolidated for a 3-1 advantage.

Haddad Maia lost her lead as Swiatek drew level for 3-all and the set fittingly went to a tiebreak. The 27-year-old from Sao Paulo led 5-3 and had a set point at 6-5 but missed a forehand. Swiatek missed one match point chance at 7-6 but made no mistake with the second to clinch victory after two hours and nine minutes.    

Keys to the match

Swiatek took her break point chances

Haddad Maia matched Swiatek in many facets of the game but when it came to break points, the Pole was far more clinical. She took all four of her break point chances while Haddad Maia won just two of her seven. In a match of fine margins, that made a big difference.

Aggressive returning from both players

Haddad Maia began with three return winners in the opening game and she was aggressive throughout on return, never allowing Swiatek too much time to settle. Likewise, Swiatek attacked from the first ball, winning 46 per cent of points on the Haddad Maia first serve.

Swiatek kept Haddad Maia away from the net

The Brazilian has great hands and wanted to get to the net, but the power and accuracy of the Swiatek groundstrokes meant she struggled to get forward as much as she wanted. In all, Haddad Maia came to the net only 12 times, just twice in the first set, and though she won eight in all, it wasn’t enough to make the difference.

What the winner said

On reaching a third Roland-Garros final

“Of course. It’s really amazing. Honestly, it’s just tough to play a long tournament. I’m really happy I’m able to play consistently. I’m pretty excited to play another day and see how it’s going to go."

What made the difference in the end

“I don’t know. It’s a tough question. For sure, she used the fact she’s lefty and she has a very nice game for a clay court with a lot of top spin. It wasn’t easy, she’s a fighter, so I knew I had to be ready for every game because the momentum can change pretty quickly. I’m happy I played so well in the tiebreak, I’m glad I was solid. I tried to push on every point. I’m happy that it worked.”

On how she will prepare for the final

“There is no sense to change anything. If you’re in a final it means your routine is working. Our goal is to play this match as any other one. I always tried to do that and it usually works.”