(Paris) World No. 1 Iga Swiatek overcame a poor start to close in on a second consecutive French Open title on Thursday after beating Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2, 7-6 (Paris) 7) in the semi-finals.

This victory also ensured the Pole to remain at the top of the world ranking after the second Grand Slam tournament of the season.

The 22-year-old Swiatek will be looking for a third career French Open title, and a fourth career major title.

On Saturday, she will meet in the final with Karolina Muchova.

The latter advanced to her first career final at a Grand Slam tournament after saving match point and orchestrating a comeback despite a sore leg to defeat second seed Aryna Sabalenka 7- 6 (5), 6-7 (5) and 7-5.

Sabalenka, who won the Australian Open in January, came within a point of victory in the semis, 5-2 in the third set, before conceding 20 of the last 24. Muchova is now 5-0 against top-3 players in the world.

“After that game she got a little more aggressive and I lost my rhythm,” Sabalenka said. I was no longer there. »

Throughout the tournament, Sabalenka was the target of questions surrounding Belarus’ role in the Russian invasion of Ukraine. She declined to participate in post-match press conferences after dodging questions about it after her first two games. She finally started talking to the media again after her quarter-final victory.

“There were challenges,” admitted Sabalenka. Emotional challenges. »

Swiatek, on the other hand, is 60-13 in major tournaments since the start of her career — the same record as American Serena Williams after 73 Grand Slam games.

She didn’t start the match on the right foot on Thursday, being broken to zero in the first game of the encounter. However, she recovered quickly and then, in the second set, Haddad Maia took control 3-1 before the Pole again came from behind on serve.

Then, in the tiebreaker, the powerful Brazilian left-hander had a set point at 6-5. She did, however, send the ball into the net. And a few moments later, she lowered her flag.

“There were some stressful moments, but I’m glad I played solid and closed the books in the tiebreaker,” Swiatek said. It hasn’t been easy. »

Haddad Maia, the 14th seed, was the first Brazilian player to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam tournament in 55 years.

Unlike Haddad Maia, Muchova continued her dream career in Paris. The 26-year-old Czech must pinch herself, as she has always considered her game to be superior on fast surfaces.

His previous best result at a major tournament was a place in the semi-finals at the Australian Open, which is played on hard courts. She also won her only title on the WTA circuit on hard courts, and had never passed the third round on Parisian clay before 2023.

“It’s my favorite surface,” Muchova agreed earlier in the tournament, “but I think I can do well here too. »

It did, on a comfortable day on the Philippe-Chatrier court against Sabalenka, who was 12-0 so far this season in Grand Slam tournaments.

Muchova’s versatility and the versatility of her shots proved instrumental against one of the biggest hitters on the women’s tour.

Ontario’s Bianca Andreescu and her New Zealand playing partner Michael Venus lost 4-6, 6-4, 10-6 to Japan’s Miyu Kato and Germany’s Tim Puetz in the final of the mixed doubles tournament at the International French tennis, Thursday.

“The doubles matches here are a point here, a point there, but overall I think we played well,” Andreescu said. They raised their level of play at the right times.

“Yeah, it was a Grand Slam final. It was good to be here. It’s obviously a little disappointing, but I think we did our best,” she concluded.

The Canadian, who still hopes to win more Grand Slam singles titles, enjoyed being able to play tennis until the end of a major tournament that spans two weeks.

“I forgot what it was like, but I’m glad I got to experience it again,” she said. Yeah, I will have to build on that for the next tournaments, and maybe until Wimbledon. »

Andreescu added that she particularly appreciated being on the court with less pressure than usual.

“I needed this, so I could practice things that might be useful to me in singles.” Sometimes I feel like I’m too serious, too critical of myself. It’s nice to have someone…to tell you that it’s okay, not to worry, to move on and think about the next thing,” she explained. .

“I mean, I’m able to do it on my own, but it’s always nice to have someone next to you saying it out loud to you,” Andreescu continued.