Iga Swiatek closes in on fourth French Open crown after brushing aside Coco Gauff

Polish world No 1 beats American third seed 6-2, 6-4 in semi-final while Novak Djokovic reveals surgery on his injured knee 'went well'

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Iga Swiatek took a big step towards securing a fourth French Open crown after sweeping aside the challenge of Coco Gauff in straight-sets in their semi-final at a sun-drenched Court Philippe-Chatrier on Thursday.

The world No 1 has been in imperious form since nearly being knocked out of the tournament by fellow four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka after a thrilling 7-6, 1-6, 7-5 battle in the second round.

In the following two matches, Switatek dropped just two games – including inflicting a double bagel on Anastasia Potapova – but was expecting a tough test against the reigning US Open champion.

But the relentless Pole dominated from the start, extending her dominance over Gauff by sealing an 11th victory in 12 meetings and will head into a Saturday showdown against 12th seed Jasmine Paolini after the Italian trounced 17-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva 6-3, 6-1.

Swiatek career win-loss record at Roland Garros now stands at a staggering 34-2, while she is on a 20-match winning streak at the event, and could become only the fourth woman to win four French Open titles in the Open era – after Justine Henin, Chris Evert and Steffi Graf.

The 23-year-old is also on track to join Serena Williams as the only women to complete the treble of French, Madrid and Rome Open titles in the same year.

“It was intense. In the second set it was right because we were breaking each other,” said Swiatek who is looking to win a third successive title at Roland Garros after her 6-2 6-4 win. “I was consistent with my tactics and went for it.

“I think she [Gauff] is progressing a lot, you can see by her results. The US Open showed she is tough. At this age, it's kind of obvious she will grow. It's nice to see her handling things around her. Coco is one of the most consistent players out there.

“Something changed [after the match against Osaka]. I just adjusted better to the court. It's not easy to play the first matches at a Grand Slam because the atmosphere is different than other tournaments. Against Naomi Osaka, I didn't have chance to get into it. The weather changed and that helped my game.”

Swiatek quickly struck first blood with a break in the opening game. The 20-year-old American found some consistency early in the second set, moving 2-1 ahead on serve.

Gauff then became embroiled in a heated exchange with the chair umpire over the timing of a line call, exclaiming “it's a Grand Slam semi-final, know the rules of the game”, while almost moved to tears.

That perceived injustice helped the American briefly raise her game, snatching her first break of the match after a long rally to lead 3-1, only to be pegged back immediately.

There was only going to be one outcome from then on as Swiatek reeled off four games in a row to take complete control.

Gauff dug deep, saving two match points to force Swiatek to serve it out and the Pole sealed victory on her fourth match point as another wild Gauff forehand flew well off target.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic confirmed on Thursday he had undergone an operation on the right knee he injured during his last-16 win.

The 24-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic was forced to withdraw ahead of his Roland Garros quarter-final against seventh seed Casper Ruud after a scan revealed a torn medial meniscus in his right knee.

“In the past day, I had to make some tough decisions after sustaining a meniscus tear during my last match,” he posted on social media. “I'm still processing it all but I am happy to update you that the surgery went well.

“My love for this sport is strong and the desire to compete at the highest level is what keeps me going.”

The 37-year-old made no mention of whether he would be fit to take part at Wimbledon which begins on July 1 but added that he was going to “do my best to be healthy and fit to return to the court as soon as possible”.

Djokovic will also lose his status as the world No 1 with Italy's Jannik Sinner set to take his place. Australian Open champion Sinner faces Spain's Carlos Alcaraz in the French Open semi-finals on Friday. Norway's Ruud faces fourth seed Alexander Zverev of Germany in the other last-four clash.

Updated: June 06, 2024, 5:07 PM