Roland Garros Semifinal Preview: Swiatek vs. Haddad Maia and Sabalenka vs. Muchova

Roland Garros Semifinal Preview: Swiatek vs. Haddad Maia and Sabalenka vs. Muchova

4 min read

The women's draw is down to just four women remaining, with two obvious favorites in top seed Iga Swiatek and second seed Aryna Sabalenka. Will the two highest-ranked women in the world meet in a third final this year, or will an underdog prevent the titans from clashing for the trophy?

Universal Tennis INSIGHTS is breaking down the semifinals, which will take place on Thursday in Paris.

(1) Iga Swiatek (13.28) vs. (14) Beatriz Haddad Maia (12.55)

Though Swiatek's UTR Rating is significantly higher than Haddad Maia, the Brazilian has a win over the Pole. In their sole meeting in Toronto last year, Haddad Maia defeated Swiatek in three sets. It's been nearly a year, and the summer of 2022 was not Swiatek's best, but it still should give Haddad Maia some hope.

Swiatek enters her second Roland Garros semifinal in a row on the heels of a strong 6-4, 6-2 win over 2022 finalist Coco Gauff. The 22-year-old Pole hasn't lost a set. In fact, she has yet to lose more than four games in a set. At ease on the clay courts, Swiatek has compiled a 26-2 record at Roland Garros since reaching the fourth round in her 2019 debut.

Iga Swiatek has lost only twice in Paris in her young career. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

"I remember my first Grand Slams that I played when I was in fourth round I was already exhausted, like mentally and physically because, well, maybe because of my level as well the matches were tougher. But mentally, every match cost me a lot," the WTA No. 1 said. "But right now, I'm kind of able to, I don't know, process it a little bit better."

This week marks Haddad Maia's best Grand Slam performance and the first time a Brazilian has reached the Roland Garros semifinals. Before this run, Haddad Maia had not gone beyond the second round of a major in 11 appearances.

Haddad Maia's court time has been quite opposite to Swiatek's, needing three sets in four of her five matches. The 27-year-old lefty fought back from a match point down against Ekaterina Alexandrova and won the 10th-longest match in Open era history when she defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo in nearly four hours. Her 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 win over Ons Jabeur in the quarterfinals took 2 hours and 29 minutes.

“I think tennis is not a 100 meters race. It's a marathon. Especially my matches,” she said on Monday.

INSIGHTS has picked Swiatek with an 84% chance of reaching the final, where the winner of Sabalenka and Muchova would await.

(2) Aryna Sabalenka (13.23) vs. Karolina Muchova (12.82)

Sabalenka is into her first Roland Garros semifinal of her career, where she faces another first-time semifinalist in Muchova. Sabalenka is looking to win her second major in a row after capturing her maiden Grand Slam at the Australian Open. Though the 25-year-old has yet to face a seeded player, she's taken out two formidable opponents in Sloane Stephens and Elina Svitolina and has yet to give up a set.

Aryna Sabalenka is into her first Roland Garros semifinal.
Aryna Sabalenka is looking to win her second major of 2023. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Muchova is unseeded due to injuries causing her to drop out of the WTA Top 50 in 2022. The Czech has been deep in a Grand Slam before, reaching the semifinals of the 2021 Australian Open and the quarterfinals at Wimbledon on two occasions. The 26-year-old is finally finding her rhythm on clay.

"Well, I think year by year at least I'm trying to be a better player on all the surfaces," Muchova said. "This year, I had a great tournament in Rome. Before, I had a great preparation. Here I started well, and with matches, I gained some confidence. Of course, now I'm feeling better on clay."

Muchova started her Paris big by upsetting No. 8 seed Maria Sakkari in the first round. She hasn't faced Sabalenka since 2019, and neither player has been beyond the third round in Paris until now.

"I'm really, really happy with the semifinals, so it's not like I'm just, you know, like whatever. It's really great result for me, so I appreciate it a lot," Muchova said. "Of course, I'm still in the tournament, so I'm trying to focus on another match, and the tournament starts here. So that's probably why I look calm or however you would call it. But I'm super, super pleased with the way this tournament is going."

Though it certainly looks like their semifinal could really go either way, INSIGHTS is siding with Sabalenka at 72% odds.

•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 11 a.m. EST, June 7, 2023.

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