World number one Iga Swiatek said on Wednesday that “the sky is the limit” as she looks to extend her 33-match winning streak and reach the French Open final.
The 2020 Roland Garros champion faces Russian Daria Kasatkina in the last four on Thursday, with the winner to face either Coco Gauff or Martina Trevisan – who meet in the second semi-final – in Saturday’s showpiece match.
Polish star Swiatek has climbed from world number seven to the top of the rankings on the back of a remarkable unbeaten run which has seen her win five successive tournaments, including four WTA 1,000 titles.
“I kind of felt like the sky’s the limit for me, so I feel more free right now, I feel like I’ve proven myself,” said Swiatek, who turned 21 on Tuesday.
“A lot has changed in my mind and for sure I also realise that I can actually be number one and really cope with it properly. So that’s pretty cool.”
Swiatek will be playing in her third Grand Slam semi-final, after also making that stage at this year’s Australian Open.
Meanwhile, Daria Kasatkina who claimed a 6-4, 7-6 (7/5) victory over fellow Russian, Veronika Kudermetova said Rafael Nadal’s late-night “fighting spirit” in defeating Novak Djokovic to make the French Open quarter-finals inspired her to secure a maiden Grand Slam semi-final spot on Wednesday.
“Rafa was my idol since I’m a kid. When I was small I was trying to copy his game,” said the 25-year-old.
“It’s so obvious that he’s the best fighter in the history of sport maybe. You can have the best backhand, forehand, serve, forever, but if you cannot fight, you cannot win. So I think the fighting spirit is the most important.”
Nadal’s four-set win over defending champion Djokovic in a match which finished at 1:15am Wednesday proved a roller-coaster for the Russian.
Kasatkina, who was playing the opening match on Court Philippe Chatrier, said she had gone to sleep Tuesday with Nadal a set and a double break ahead.
“I put my laptop away and I fell asleep. But I’m really happy for Rafa because I cannot imagine how tough were the circumstances,” she added.
“I mean, he’s saying that can be his last match at Roland Garros and I cannot imagine how can you go on the match with this feeling. So another time he shows like how strong he is mentally.”
Kasatkina won her first clash with Swiatek on the Eastbourne grass last year, but has lost all three of their meetings in 2022 in straight sets, without winning more than five games in a match. But those defeats all came on hard courts at the Australian Open and in Dubai and Doha.
“We played few times this year, but, okay, I lost those matches, but was a different story,” said Kasatkina. “It was a hard court, beginning of the year, I was not in the same shape as I am now.
“I cannot compare what we are going to have tomorrow and what we had in February, March when we were playing. It’s going to be completely different match...
“She’s good on hard court, she’s good on clay, so it doesn’t matter. But I think for me it’s better to face her on clay.”
Kasatkina, playing in her third career quarter-final at the Slams but first since 2018, has made the semis without dropping a set.
(With inputs from AFP)