If Iga Swiatek meets Aryna Sabalenka for the French Open championship, more than the trophy would be at stake. The No. 1 ranking would be, too. (More Tennis News)
But there’s work to be done for both players first — getting to the final.
In Thursday’s semifinals, No. 2 Sabalenka of Belarus will play unseeded Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic, before No. 1 Swiatek of Poland faces No. 14 Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil.
Sabalenka is unbeaten in Grand Slam action in 2023; she won her first major title at the Australian Open in January.
She’s drawn more attention for non-tennis matters over the past 1 1/2 weeks, however, connected to her country’s assistance to Russia during the invasion of Ukraine. After being asked about that at two news conferences, Sabalenka skipped the next two post-match sessions with reporters, before speaking to the media for the first time in nearly a week after her quarterfinal victory.
Swiatek has not been challenged much at Roland Garros this year as she pursues her third triumph on the red clay and fourth Slam title overall. She hasn’t dropped a set yet heading into the matchup against Haddad Maia, a player who served a 10-month doping ban after failing a test in 2019 and had never been past the second round at a major tournament until now.
WHAT HAPPENED ON WEDNESDAY?
In the women’s quarterfinals, Swiatek beat No. 6 Coco Gauff, and Haddad Maia defeated No. 7 Ons Jabeur. In the men’s, No. 4 Casper Ruud eliminated No. 6 Holger Rune, and No. 22 Alexander Zverev got past unseeded Tomas Martin Etcheverry.
WHAT IS COMING THIS FRIDAY?
The men’s semifinals feature No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 3 Novak Djokovic, and Ruud vs. Zverev. Alcaraz, who is 20, owns one major title; Djokovic, who is 36, owns 22. Alcaraz will be playing in his second Grand Slam semifinal, Djokovic in his 45th. Zverev reached the final four in Paris for the third year in a row; Ruud was the runner-up to Rafael Nadal in last year’s final in Paris.
WHEN ARE THURSDAY’S MATCHES?
Play begins in Court Philippe Chatrier at noon local time in Paris, which is 6 a.m. EDT. First up is the mixed doubles final, with 2019 U.S. Open singles champion Bianca Andreescu and Michael Venus playing against Miyo Kato and Tim Pütz. That will be followed by the women’s singles semifinals, starting no sooner than 3 p.m. local time, which is 9 a.m. EDT: Muchova-Sabalenka, then Haddad Maia-Swiatek. It is an off day in men’s singles.
THE NUMBER TO KNOW
55 — Number of years since a Brazilian woman reached a Grand Slam singles semifinal; Beatriz Haddad Maia is the first to do so since Maria Bueno at the 1968 U.S. Open.
THE QUOTE TO KNOW
“Obviously, you lose to someone seven times, you feel crappy.” — Coco Gauff, after dropping to 0-7 against Iga Swiatek.