Sunday, January 29, 2023

No-call on double bounce vaults Swiatek into French Open semis with 33rd straight win


Iga Swiatek benefited from the chair umpire’s no-call on a double bounce that gave her a key first-set service break during a match-altering five-game run and the French Open’s No. 1 seed moved into the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Jessica Pegula on Wednesday.

Swiatek extended her winning streak to 33 matches, the longest on tour since Serena Williams won 34 in a row in 2013.

Swiatek will face No. 20 Daria Kasatkina in one women’s semifinal Thursday, when the other will be No. 18 Coco Gauff, an 18-year-old American, against unseeded Martina Trevisan, a 28-year-old from Italy.

Only Swiatek, who won the 2020 French Open, has previously participated in the final four at a major tournament.

WATCH | Swiatek upends Pegula in French Open quarters:

Iga Swiatek wins 33rd match in a row to advance to the French Open semis

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek of Poland won her 33rd match in a row with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over 11th-seeded American Jessica Pegula to advance to the semifinals of the French Open.

Kasatkina made it that far by beating No. 29 Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 7-6 (5) in a match between two Russian players who will not be allowed to compete at Wimbledon later this month because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Theirs was a mistake-filled quarter-final, with the players combining for 75 unforced errors, 50 by Kudermetova. That allowed Kasatkina to win despite coming up with just 16 winners over the course of 165 points.

The men’s quarter-finals scheduled for later Wednesday were No. 7 Andrey Rublev against 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, and No. 8 Casper Ruud against 19-year-old Holger Rune.

A day after her 21st birthday, Swiatek was not at her dominant best against the 11th-seeded Pegula, a 28-year-old from New York whose parents own the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and NHL’s Buffalo Sabres.

“Getting old, but still fresh,” Swiatek wrote with a silver marker on the lens of a courtside TV camera.

Flourished as No. 1

As usual for most of this season, Swiatek was good enough to end up on the right side of the scoreline. She has not lost a match since February and claimed the title at each of her past five tournaments.

Swiatek rose atop the WTA rankings in March after the woman who was No. 1, Ash Barty, retired at age 25. Rather than being derailed by the sudden switch in status, Swiatek has flourished, going 16-0 since rising from No. 2.

On a sunny afternoon at Court Philippe Chatrier, with the temperature above 20 degrees Celsius, Swiatek’s start was so-so for the second match in a row, although she did wind up with nearly twice as many winners as Pegula, 30 to 16.

“Today is warmer, so I feel like the ball is flying a little bit faster,” Swiatek said, “so I had to adjust to that, for sure.”

She trailed 3-2 in the opening set, and it was 3-all when she held a break point while Pegula served.

Pegula tried a drop shot, and Swiatek ran to it, reaching out to flip the ball over the net at an impossible angle. Pegula could not get to that response, and the point went to Swiatek, giving her a 4-3 edge.

As Pegula went to the sideline for the ensuing changeover, she looked toward her coach, David Witt, in the stands, perhaps wondering whether Swiatek’s shot should have counted.

A TV replay confirmed it should not have: The ball landed a second time on her side of the net before going off her racket, so chair umpire Emmanuel Joseph should have ruled the point belonged to Pegula. But Joseph missed the extra bounce and, unlike at some other tournaments, officials at the French Open can’t consult video to make sure they get a call correct.

From there, Swiatek wouldn’t drop another game until she led by a set and 1-0 in the second. In all, she took 10 of the last 12 games.

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