Incredible Iga makes history for Poland, storms into semis

The 19-year-old cruises past Trevisan to become first Polish woman in the Open Era to make last four in Paris

Iga Swiatek, Roland-Garros 2020, 1/4 de finale©Philippe Montigny / FFT
 - Simon Cambers

It’s an old adage but a wise one. When you’re winning, just keep doing what you’re doing.

Iga Swiatek reached her first Grand Slam semi-final on Tuesday, ending the stunning run of qualifier Martina Trevisan of Italy 6-3, 6-1, having trailed 3-1 early on before winning 11 of the next 12 games to set up a meeting with another qualifier, Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska.

The 19-year-old is the first Polish woman to reach the semi-finals at Roland-Garros in the Open era, going one round further than Agnieszka Radwanska, who made the quarter-finals in 2013.

Radwanska was quick to send Swiatek her congratulations on social media and the Pole said the secret to her success was keeping everything the same as she has throughout the tournament, including the music she’s been listening to.

“Sometimes I'm listening to calm music when I need to calm down, like (when) the adrenaline level is too high,” she said.

“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. That's it.”

Keeping the routine was not easy for Swiatek or Trevisan on Tuesday, with the pair forced to wait until 9pm before beginning their match, thanks to the five-hour, eight-minute epic between Diego Schwartzman and Dominic Thiem.

When she trailed 3-1, it looked as if it might be a tough night for Swiatek, who had beaten top seed Simona Halep in the previous round.

“It was kind of stressful,” Swiatek said. “I wasn't thinking that I'm playing quarter-final of a Grand Slam. I just kept doing everything I did before. I had to warm up three times. Martina had the same situation, so it was OK with me.

“It was harder being on court today because the conditions were pretty tough. It was really windy. The wind was coming from the side. You had to change your game every break. I needed some time to get used to that. I did that pretty well after, I don't know, 15 minutes.”

Swiatek plays with a maturity beyond her years, taking the ball early in a manner reminiscent of Martina Hingis while she also revealed she had been inspired by the performance of Naomi Osaka, one of her best friends on tour, at the US Open.

“Her US Open win, of course it's inspiring me because in previous tournaments when I was watching her game, I kind of felt she can play much better,” she said.

“In Western & Southern (Open), and US Open I felt like she's back, the best level of Naomi's tennis is here. It was inspiring.”

The Pole said she’d expected a tough match and for there to be difficult moments, an acceptance that helped her when she fell behind early in the first set.

“Well, I was pretty nervous (today),” she said. “I knew that my opponent also can be nervous because it was her first match on Philippe-Chatrier. I remember last year when I played my first match on Philippe Chatrier. It was kind of horrible.

“I just knew that I'm not going to play as perfect as with Simona. On my level, it's impossible to keep that level of consistency.

“I just knew that I'm going to make some mistakes at the beginning because of the conditions. I just stayed really down-to-earth and really positive. I wanted to be aggressive from the beginning so I can lead on court. I did that pretty well.”

With a semi-final to come against world No.131 Podoroska, Swiatek will now have to deal with being the big favourite, with the huge carrot of a place in a first Grand Slam final dangling tantalisingly in front of her.

What might help Swiatek is the fact that she will play doubles on Wednesday, a welcome distraction, filling the time with something constructive instead of hours of thinking about what might be.

“I'm going to not use my phone probably because I'm going to answer all the congratulations later,” said Swiatek, who added that her phone was “going to explode”.

“I just want to focus on the tournament still. Yeah, I'm just going to keep it going. I'm going to keep everything the same. Just doing better recovery because it's second week and we are all pretty tired.”

Being favourite against Posoroska will add its own pressure but Swiatek said she would keep things simple.

“I just play tennis, you know,” she said.

Trevisan, who came through qualifying to reach a first Grand Slam quarter-final, said she was proud of what she had achieved.

“I'm sad for the match, but it's an incredible two weeks for me,” the Italian said. “So today I close a very important chapter of my life. Tomorrow other chapters will begin. I'm just happy.”