Jessica Pegula reached the quarter-finals of the French Open before facing the seemingly unbeaten Iga Swiatek on Wednesday. And four months earlier, in the first Grand Slam of the year, Pegula reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open before facing eventual champion Ash Party.
Two majors, two strong runs, two encounters with the first player at the time. So, 28-year-old Pegola from New York can offer a kind of unique perspective on what it’s like to meet Swiatek and Barty, who retired in March at the age of 25.
Swiatek, who replaced Barty at the top of the WTA rankings, took advantage of not calling the chair umpire in a double rebound that gave her a first-set service break during a five-game main round and progressed to the semi-finals at Roland Garros with a 6-3 win over Pegula, 6-2 to extend its winning streak to 33 games.
Swiatek’s race is the longest on a Tour since Serena Williams won 34 in a row in 2013.
“Honestly, she plays kind of like a guy. And I mean Ash was in a similar fashion, where they don’t play like a typical girl where they hit kind of flat and the ball goes across the court. She plays a little bit unconventional in the fact that she Like, a really heavy forehand,” but at the same time she also likes to step in and take it really early, and I think the mud gives her more time, and I think it makes it more difficult to handle.”
Swiatek plays No. 20 seed Daria Kasatkina in the women’s semi-final on Thursday, while the other will be No. 18 Coco Gauff, 18-year-old American, against unseeded Martina Trevisan, 28, from Italy.
Gauff and her partner, Pegola, are also semifinalists in the women’s doubles.
Of the last four women’s singles, only Swiatek has previously competed in the semi-finals of a major tournament, losing at that point at the Australian Open in January and taking the title at the 2020 French Open when she was ranked outside the top 50.
“It’s a little different this year,” she said, “because I’m not an underdog, and everything has changed, frankly.”
Kasatkina beat 29th seed Veronika Kudretova 6-4 7-6 (5) in a match between two Russian players who will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon later this month due to that country’s invasion of Ukraine. They came together in 75 non-compulsory errors, 50 errors of Kudermetova.
“It was a roller coaster,” said Kasatkina, who hasn’t reached a major quarter-final in four years.
In Wednesday’s men’s quarterfinal, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic reached the French Open semi-finals for the first time by hitting 33 aces to defeat No. 7 Andrey Rublev 5-7, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7 -6 (10-2) in 4 hours 10 minutes.
Cilic, the 20th seed, now 33, will face eighth seed Kasper Ruud on Friday to book his place in the final. Rudd, 23, of Norway, reached the semi-finals for the first time in a Grand Slam by defeating 19-year-old Dan Holger Ron 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 In the last quarter-finals.
One day after her 21st birthday, Swiatek wasn’t at her best dominant position against 11th seed Pegula, whose parents own the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabers. As usual for most of this season, Swiatek has been good enough to end up on the right side of the score. She hasn’t lost a match since February, winning her past five tournaments.
Constant pressure on opponents is another similarity that Pegula sees between Swiatek and Barty.
“You get those few chances and you feel like it kind of weighs you down if you don’t take it, you’re like, ‘Fire up, I missed my chance, now I have to work hard to get it sent or come back in this game’ or whatever it is,” Pegula said. “. “Mentally, that’s also what they do well and what I’ve been trying to do better.”
On a sunny afternoon at Court Philippe Chatrier, with the temperature above 70 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius), Swiatek had a very good start to the second game in a row, despite scooping nearly twice as many winners as Pegula, 30 up to 16.
“I feel like the ball is flying a little faster, so I definitely had to adapt to that,” Swiatek said.
Late 3-2 in the opening set, she was 3-all when she got a break point for Pegula.
Pegula attempted a falling shot, Sweatyak ran towards her, reaching out to flip the ball over the net at an impossible angle. Pegula couldn’t come up with that response, and the point went to Swiatek, giving her a 4-3 advantage.
But, as Pegula later saw in the replay on the top video board, it shouldn’t be: The ball lands a second time on Swiatek’s side of the net before it flies off her racket. President Emmanuel Joseph should have judged that the point belonged to Pegula, but he did not notice the double recoil; Unlike some other tournaments, French Open officials cannot consult video.
“I was like, ‘There’s no scary way she understood that. “I was like, ‘Seriously?!’” Pegula said at her press conference. “I looked at (Joseph) and he didn’t call. You can’t say anything. The problem is, once they make their decision, you can’t go back and change it.”
From there, Swiatek wouldn’t give up another match until she was up by one set and 1-0 in the second set. In all, I’ve had 10 from my last 12 matches.
When a reporter mentioned this double bounce, Swiatek seemed to stifle a smile, as if she had anticipated the question.
“If it’s two bounces, I’m sorry,” she said, noting that “these moments are very difficult, because they are all on the judgement.”
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