Iga Swiatek is relishing what she expects to be "a great battle" with Ons Jabeur in the US Open final.

The world number one came from behind to defeat Aryna Sabalenka 3-6 6-1 6-4 in Thursday's semi-final to set up a shot at a third grand slam title.

Swiatek will now face Tunisia's Jabeur, who is yet to win a major and suffered defeat in this year's Wimbledon final.

Asked about the task of taking on the world number five in Saturday's showpiece, Swiatek said: "There are a lot of challenges because she's a really solid player and she's second in the race right now.

"You know, Wimbledon final. She didn't get [ranking] points for that, but it shows how much progress she has made.

"She has a different game style than most of the players. She has a great touch. All these things mixed up... she's just a tough opponent.

"That's why probably our matches are always kind of physical and really tight.

"She's just a tough opponent and fully deserves to be in the final. I think it's going to be a great battle."

The Pole conceded she was still lacking trust in her ability on hard courts, with clay her favoured surface, as evidenced by two French Open titles.

But she is delighted to have overcome that in order to push on to a maiden final at Flushing Meadows.

"I just feel like the work that I did pays off," she said. "I feel like even though I lost in Toronto and Cincinnati pretty early, it gives you a chance to prepare and you have to be ready during that time to actually use that.

"I'm pretty happy that on this tournament I was fresh mentally to actually use the chances. I'm pretty happy that even though maybe I wasn't feeling 100 per cent perfectly from the beginning of the tournament, I was still able to get better and better and to play a really solid game."

From her past 50 matches, Swiatek has a record of 46-4, and coming into this tournament she had 8605 ranking points – with second-placed Anett Kontaveit down at 4360.

She is also the first number one seed to reach the US Open final since Serena Williams did it back in 2014, snapping the equal-longest drought on that front at any grand slam in the Open Era.

Iga Swiatek will have a chance to win her third career grand slam after defeating Aryna Sabalenka 3-6 6-1 6-4 in a gutsy come-from-behind win in Thursday's semi-final.

Poland's Swiatek, who has also won the French Open in 2020 and 2022, will play Ons Jabeur in the decider after the Tunisian won her semi-final against the in-form Caroline Garcia in straight sets earlier on.

It continues a remarkable season for the 21-year-old Swiatek, having also reached the semi-final at the Australian Open, before rattling off a 37-match winning streak that saw her claim six titles in a row and put a massive gap on the field as the world number one.

Belarus' Sabalenka was impressive in the opening set, attacking Swiatek's second serves to generate plenty of break points. She won 10-of-12 opportunities against Swiatek's second serve in the first frame, creating six break point chances and taking three.

Things flipped in the second set, and it was all about Swiatek making the adjustments, increasing her first serve accuracy from 64 per cent in the opener to 94 per cent in the second. 

She won 14-of-17 points in those situations in the second frame, and converted all three of her break point opportunities as Sabalenka got sloppy, committing 15 unforced errors with only six winners.

Sabalenka threatened to run away with things late – twice managing to go up a break in the third set – but Swiatek showed composure beyond her years as she continued to fight back.

From 4-2 down in the decider, Swiatek rattled off the next four games in a row, going up 40-0 against Sabalenka's serve in the final game and finishing things off with her second match point.

Data Slam: Swiatek continues historic season

From her past 50 matches, Swiatek has a record of 46-4, and coming into this tournament she had 8605 ranking points – with second-placed Anett Kontaveit down at 4360.

She is also the first number one seed to reach the US Open final since Serena Williams did it back in 2014, snapping the equal-longest drought at any grand slam in the Open Era.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Swiatek – 2/3

Sabalenka – 4/7

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Swiatek – 24/31

Sabalenka – 22/44

BREAK POINTS WON

Swiatek – 7/10

Sabalenka – 5/10

Aryna Sabalenka credited a greater awareness of what to expect from Karolina Pliskova for her US Open quarter-final victory.

Sabalenka and Pliskova went into Wednesday's match having split their four previous meetings.

Pliskova, though, had the last two, the Czech coming from a set down to beat Sabalenka in last year's Wimbledon semi-finals and also prevailing in the last four in Montreal in 2021.

But Sabalenka turned the tide this time around at Flushing Meadows, a blistering forehand return sealing a 6-1 7-6 (7-4) triumph and a place in a second successive US Open semi-final.

Sabalenka said in her on-court interview: "The last two matches, I don't want to say I didn't respect her and I didn't expect from her a great level, I was thinking ok I'm on the top I have to beat her and today I expect a great level, I expect the long rallies, I expect the tough match and I just tried to stay in this match as long as I can and just tried to make her work for it and should played really well and somehow I was able to handle this level and win this match."

Next up for Sabalenka will be either world number one Iga Swiatek or home hope Jessica Pegula.

And she knows either opponent will present a significant hurdle as Sabalenka seeks to reach a first grand slam final.

"It's a semi-final, it's going to be tough and I'm ready for it, I'm ready for another fight," she added. 

"I think I just have to stay focused on myself and do whatever I can, do my best and be ready for a great battle."

Aryna Sabalenka believes she is ready for the challenge of Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals after losing both of their meetings in 2021, saying she knows what to expect this time around.

Sabalenka defeated Danielle Collins 3-6 6-3 6-2 on Monday, with the world number six coming from a set behind to collect her seventh win from her past eight matches.

With Pliskova getting the better of Sabalenka's Belarusian compatriot Victoria Azarenka 7-5 6-7 (5-7) 6-2, it sets up the fifth career meeting between the pair, with their head-to-head record split at two wins apiece.

Sabalenka won both meetings in 2018, but after years without a match against each other, Pliskova flipped the script in 2021 with wins in Montreal and at Wimbledon.

Speaking to the media after her fourth round win, Sabalenka said she was caught by surprise at how much Pliskova had improved in the years between their matches, and how that will not be the case this time around.

"To be honest, on those matches, the first matches I won against her, I was an upcoming player," she said. "I was lower in the ranking, I was respecting every top player. I was kind of expecting a great level from them.

"Then, in the last two matches last year, I was in the top. Every time she was making me move, every time she was making winners, I was like, what's going on? How is it possible? Oh, my God, she is making winners.

"I want to say that I wasn't kind of really respecting her. Right now I really expect great level from her. 

"It's going to be tough. Every time she will make some winners, it's not going to be pissing me off, it's going to be like, okay, it's normal, she's making it, what next?"

Meanwhile, Pliskova believes she is playing her best tennis of the season at the moment after advancing to the quarter-finals for the second straight year, having lost to Maria Sakkari at Flushing Meadows in 2021.

She told the media after defeating Azarenka that it may have been her best performance of the year – and maybe even longer.

"I think this was one of the best matches this year, from my side," she said. "I think also from her. I thought the level of the tennis was quite good for all three sets.

"Maybe in the third set, maybe she started to drop it a little bit. Of course, it was understandable because physically it was also quite tough. We had long rallies, long points, long games.

"But quite happy with my level. I think I'm playing quite good tennis now, maybe even better than last year here."

Caroline Garcia has become the first qualifier to reach a WTA 1000 tournament final after continuing her dream run at the Western & Southern Open with a hard-fought win over sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka on Saturday.

In a match halted twice for extended periods by rain, Garcia triumphed 6-2 4-6 6-1 in the semi-final that lasted two hours and five minutes.

Garcia's victory over Sabalenka secured her spot in the decider against Petra Kvitova, who beat Madison Keys in the other semi-final earlier on Saturday.

The victory also adds another top-10 scalp to Garcia's list from this week's Cincinnati event, having knocked out fourth seed Maria Sakkari and seventh seed Jessica Pegula en route to the final four.

The world number 35 had also beaten top-ranked Iga Swiatek during a run to the Poland Open title three weeks ago.

Garcia has a Tour-leading 26 main-draw victories since June with title wins in Bad Homburg and Warsaw in that stretch; next most match wins in that stretch is Simona Halep (19) and Beatriz Haddad Maia (17).

Saturday's win was fueled by a strong first-serve points won percentage of 81.3 per cent for Garcia, sending down 8-4 aces while Sabalenka was not helped by 7-1 double faults.

The 28-year-old, whose highest rank was fourth in 2018, saved seven break points while converting six of the 13 she generated.

She had to come through qualifying to earn a place in the Cincinnati main draw and looked like racing past Sabalenka after taking the opening set in impression fashion.

A two-and-a-half-hour rain delay halted Garcia's progress at 1-1 in the second set, and it was Sabalenka who returned the strongest from the break.

Garcia needed her left arm bandaging when trailing 5-4 in the second set, forcing Sabalenka to endure a long wait to serve to level the match.

Just as the match looked to be tilting the Belarusian's way, an improved Garcia broke to lead 3-1 in the deciding set; however, rain returned in the next game with Garcia 30-15 up on serve, causing another hold-up.

But Garcia would not be denied after play resumed approximately 90 minutes later, winning the final three games to secure an historic place in the decider.

Ekaterina Alexandrova beat top seed Aryna Sabalenka in straight sets in The Rosmalen Grass Court Championship final on Sunday to claim her second career title. 

The world number 30 prevailed 7-5 6-0 against a below-par Sabalenka in just 77 minutes to add to her Shenzhen Open triumph from January 2020.

Sabalenka was seeking an 11th singles title and looked value to do so after cruising into the final in 's-Hertogenbosch, but she was outclassed by Alexandrova.

The pair had dropped just one set apiece in their four matches en route to the final, which went the way of the serve until the sixth game when Sabalenka broke her opponent.

However, she was unable to build on that advantage as Alexandrova hit back in the following game and broke the Belarusian again in the 11th to serve out the opener.

In the first meeting between the pair on grass, Alexandrova completely dominated the second set as she broke all three of Sabalenka's service games in a ruthless showing.

The 27-year-old, who had lost two of her previous three finals, took her second match point to complete the job in a stress-free manner.

Aryna Sabalenka will meet Ekaterina Alexandrova in The Rosmalen Grass Court Championship final, while Beatriz Haddad Maia set up a showdown with Alison Riske in the Nottingham Open showpiece.

Sabalenka, ranked sixth in the world, put paid to Shelby Rogers 7-6 (8-6) 6-0, as the favourite in the Netherlands reached her second singles final this year.

World number 30 Alexandrova had little difficulty against Veronika Kudermetova as she triumphed 6-3 6-1 to reach her first singles final of the season.

Sabalenka and Alexandrova have split four previous meetings with two wins apiece, with the latter taking the most recent clash in straight sets at the Moscow quarter-finals last year.

Seventh seed Haddad Maia stunned favourite Maria Sakkari in the quarter-finals to tee up the last-four clash with Tereza Martincova in Nottingham.

The Brazilian raced out the blocks once more to progress past Martincova, with the former 6-3 4-1 up before the Czech retired with injury.

Rain stopped play in the second semi-final between Viktorija Golubic and Riske with the scores level at one set each.

Sixth seed Riske capitalised from that point onwards to edge past Golubic 6-3 4-6 6-3.

Top seed Maria Sakkari was eliminated from the Nottingham Open at the quarter-final stage by world number 48 Beatriz Haddad Maia on Friday.

Haddad Maia made it three career wins out of three against Sakkari with a 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory to reach her first WTA semi-final on grass.

The Brazilian will now take on Tereza Martincova, who beat last year's runner-up Zhang Shuai 6-3 6-2, for a place in Sunday's final.

Sixth seed Alison Riske is also through to the last four after recovering from a set down to beat home favourite Harriet Dart 4-6 6-2 6-1.

Riske's sixth career semi-final on grass will come against Viktorija Golubic, who surprised Ajla Tomljanovic 6-3 7-6 (8-6) in the final match of the day.

At The Rosmalen Grass Court Championships, second seed Belinda Bencic's participation was ended with a straight-sets defeat to Veronika Kudermetova.

French Open quarter-finalist Kudermetova prevailed 6-4 6-2 in 87 minutes to snap a three-match losing streak against Bencic.

Russian compatriot Ekaterina Alexandrova is up next in the semi-finals after easing past American qualifier Caty McNally 6-0 6-1

Top seed Aryna Sabalenka is into her third semi-final in her past five tournaments, meanwhile, thanks to a 6-2 3-6 7-6 (7-5) win over Alison Van Uytvanck.

Shelby Rogers, a 3-6 6-1 6-4 winner against Kirsten Flipkens, awaits Sabalenka in Saturday's semi-final.

Elena Rybakina and Tamara Zidansek were both surprise second-round losers at The Rosmalen Grass Court Championships as numerous top seeds fell on Thursday.

Third favourite Rybakina struggled to find her rhythm and fell to a 6-2 6-4 loss against world number 42 Shelby Rogers.

The American will face Kirsten Flipkens in the quarter-finals in the Netherlands after she eased past Ann Li in straight sets.

Aryna Sabalenka, the favourite at the tournament, had little difficulty in negotiating past Arianne Hartono 6-2 6-3 and she will meet Alison van Uytvanck in the next round.

The Belgian picked up the scalp of compatriot Elise Mertens, the eighth seed, with a 6-2 6-3 win over the world number 29.

Fourth seed Zidansek was another to fall as she suffered a 6-1 6-1 loss to Catherine McNally, while Veronika Kudermetova profited from Anna Blinkova retiring with the match heading for one set each.

Belinda Bencic, the second favourite, will next challenge Kudermetova after she bucked the trend of the day with a battling 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 win over Anna Kalinskaya.

Seventh seed Ekaterina Alexandrova had no trouble in advancing, meanwhile, as she saw off Anhelina Kalinina 6-4 6-2.

Maria Sakkari found herself 1-0 down against world number 109 Rebecca Marino before rain stopped play at the Nottingham Open, but the top seed responded to claim a 1-6 6-3 6-3 win.

Third seed Camila Giorgi had no such luck against Hannah Dart as she was eliminated 5-7 6-4 7-6 (7-3), while Alison Riske and Ajla Tomljanovic beat Caroline Garcia and Katie Boulter respectively in straight sets.

Number four seed Shuai Zhang made it through to the quarter-finals of the Nottingham Open after a straight-sets win over home hope Jodie Burrage.

Zhang was never in danger against her unseeded opponent, easing to a 6-2 7-6 (7-4) win to set up a last-eight clash with Tereza Martincova.

Martincova brushed aside number eight seed Magda Linette 6-2 7-6 (7-3) in their round-of-16 meeting on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Viktorija Golubic beat Heather Watson 7-5 6-2, while the match between number three seed Camila Giorgi and Harriet Dart was suspended at the start of the third set after the Briton had made it one set each. 

Meanwhile, rain caused havoc at the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships, with top seed Aryna Sabalenka's match against Arianne Hartono the only one to partially take place.

The match was called off for the day after Sabalenka had claimed the first set 6-2.

Emma Raducanu has "no idea" if she will be fit for Wimbledon after retiring from her first-round match against Viktorija Golubic at the Nottingham Open on Tuesday. 

Second seed Raducanu conceded the match after 36 minutes having sustained an injury to her left side while down a break at 4-3 in the opening set. 

The 19-year-old is scheduled to appear at Birmingham next week before heading to Wimbledon, where she reached the fourth round last year. 

US Open champion Raducanu, who made her WTA Tour debut in Nottingham last year, is unsure if she will recover in time to feature at the All England Club. 

"I think I pulled something, I am not really sure what exactly happened," Raducanu said. 

"I have just come off court, an absolute freak injury. I don't know what I could have done more about it. That is it. 

"I have no idea [about Wimbledon]. It could have just seized up and gone into spasm and then it is really bad for a few days. I have no idea. I cannot diagnose myself. I will get it checked out." 

Raducanu was the only seed to exit the tournament, with top seed Maria Sakkari overcoming Camila Osorio 6-2 6-3 to advance to a second-round meeting with Rebecca Marino. 

Beatriz Haddad Maia came from a set down to beat Wang Qiang 5-7 6-4 6-3, while Ajla Tomljanovic and Camila Giorgi had comfortable victories against Wang Xinyu and Sonay Kartal respectively. 

Aryna Sabalenka cruised into the second round of the Rosmalen Grass Court Championships by defeating Kateryna Baindl 6-4 6-1. 

Fifth seed Liudmila Samsonova, meanwhile, succumbed to a 6-3 6-4 loss to Ann Li in an hour and 22 minutes. 

There would have been further casualties among the seeds had Tamara Zidansek, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Elise Mertens not fought from a set down to win their opening matches. 

Tereza Martincova got off to a winning start at the Nottingham Open, where there were three British winners on home soil on Monday.

World number 60 Martincova recorded a 7-6 (7-1) 7-5 triumph over France's Oceane Dodin to ease into the second round in Nottingham.

Heather Watson, ranked 102nd in the world, had no problems as she eased past Katie Volynets 6-4 6-2, and fellow Briton Hannah Dart followed suit by defeating Donna Vekic 6-4 6-3.

Jodie Burrage completed the first-round sweep for British women, downing Lin Zhu 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

At the Rosmalen Grass Court Championship, top seed Aryna Sabalenka was due to face Kateryna Baindl but bad weather curtailed the day's play early.

Earlier on, Anna Kalinskaya edged out Suzan Lamens 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in the first round, while Catherine McNally, Storm Sanders, Olivia Gadecki and Jamie Loeb were all triumphant in qualifying.

Novak Djokovic returns to the grand slam arena, Carlos Alcaraz is threatening to follow in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, and Iga Swiatek is suddenly unstoppable.

The French Open is rich in promise as the Roland Garros clay courts are swept in anticipation of the greats of tennis stepping out to begin their campaigns.

It has been the women's draw that has looked the most wide open in recent seasons, yet this year it is hard to look beyond Swiatek; however, the men's title battle promises to provide a sensational battle.

Here, Stats Perform assesses the contenders for the two main trophies: the Coupe des Mousquetaires and the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen.


KID INTERRUPTS G.O.A.T. RACE

Nadal took full advantage of Djokovic and Roger Federer being absent from the Australian Open, carrying off his 21st grand slam title to go top of the men's all-time list, one ahead of those two great rivals.

Federer is again missing, rehabbing after knee surgery, and the likelihood is he has played his final major already, but Djokovic is emphatically back. His confidence is surging once more, having taken a knock amid the drama of his deportation from Australia in January and being frozen out of the Indian Wells and Miami events due to the United States' COVID-19 rules.

A semi-final run in Madrid, where he lost a three-set monster to Alcaraz, was followed by Djokovic carrying off the Rome title for a sixth time when he saw off Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final.

Djokovic turns 35 on Sunday, as main-draw action gets under way in Paris, but he is the defending champion and firmly believes he can succeed again.

Assessing his prospects for Paris, Djokovic said after his Rome triumph: "With rankings and the way I've been playing in the last few weeks, I would rate myself as one of the favourites. I don't obviously spend too much time thinking who's going to win it or who might have the best chance. I always think about myself.

"I go there with the highest ambitions. I really like my chances. Best-of-five, you play every second day. It's a grand slam. It's different. Really, the grand slams are played different. You have to approach it differently. But the way I've been feeling on the court and off the court in the last few weeks, I really think I can go far."

The chief threat to Djokovic could come not from 'King of Clay' Nadal, but from the 13-time champion's fellow Spaniard, 19-year-old Alcaraz.

Bidding to become the first teenage winner of the men's title since Nadal, also 19, triumphed for the first time in 2005, Alcaraz arrives in Paris with four titles already secured this year, including three on clay in Rio, Barcelona and Madrid. The other title came on hardcourt at the Masters 1000 event in Miami, and Alcaraz has rocketed from 32nd at the start of the year to number six in the world rankings.

Many expect his grand slam haul to reach double digits, just like the Big Three he has grown up watching and learning from. The first slam must come somewhere, and it might well come in Paris in a fortnight's time.

Don't discount Nadal, but his form has been a shade unconvincing since coming back from a rib injury, while Tsitsipas looks the next most likely after winning on clay in Monte Carlo and finishing runner-up to Djokovic in Rome. The Greek has unfinished business in Paris, after the heartache of losing last year's final from two sets up.

 

IGA TO PLEASE? POLE GOES FROM SHOCK WINNER TO FIRM FAVOURITE

The first thing to point out is that the French Open women's singles title has been won by eight different players in the last eight years.

Iga Swiatek was a surprise champion in 2020, at the tournament that was delayed until the Paris autumn due to the pandemic. She was ousted by Maria Sakkari in the quarter-finals last year but returns on a roll, having won an incredible five consecutive tournaments.

The 20-year-old has won 38 of the last 39 sets she has contested, the odd one out going against her on a tie-break, and her winning streak has reached 28 matches. Since Ash Barty retired, nobody has been able to lay much of a glove on Swiatek.

If she wins the French Open, that run will reach 35 matches, equalling the longest run in the 2000s, previously achieved by Venus Williams during a glory run that saw her win events including Wimbledon, the Olympic Games and US Open in the year 2000.

Tunisia's Ons Jabeur has been spoken of as a possible challenger to Swiatek, but she was swatted away 6-2 6-2 by the youngster in the Rome final last weekend.

So who challenges the favourite? Even those who have been there and done that struggle to look beyond Swiatek. According to Martina Navratilova: "You can’t be any hotter than she is right now."

Navratilova told the WTA website: "She looks pretty unbeatable on any surface, particularly the clay now."

The last player to beat Swiatek was Jelena Ostapenko, in Dubai. Ostapenko, a surprise 2017 French Open champion, had a sizzling spell of form in February but has gone off the boil since. It might take someone of her hard-hitting nature to knock Swiatek out of her stride, though, so if Ostapenko can navigate the early rounds she becomes a real contender. The Latvian's career record against Swiatek? An impressive 3-0.

Who else? Simona Halep's coaching tie-up with Patrick Mouratoglou – Serena Williams' former coach of long-standing – has raised eyebrows and now it might be time for it to raise her results level too. Halep has won in Paris before, in 2018, so don't count her out.

Aryna Sabalenka, Sakkari, Paula Badosa. Such players come into the mix if Swiatek slips up, but there has been scant sign of that happening.

Iga Swiatek continued her remarkable winning run to reach the Internazionali d'Italia final as she defeated Aryna Sabalenka 6-2 6-1.

Top seed Swiatek extended to 26 matches unbeaten, dating back to mid-February, with victory over Bianca Andreescu to set up the last-four meeting with Sabalenka, who battled past Amanda Anisimova.

The pair exchanged opening breaks in a tentative start to the clash in the Italian capital before Sabalenka again failed to hold her serve as Pole Swiatek took an early 3-1 lead.

World number eight Sabalenka, the third seed in the tournament, offered little response as the in-form Swiatek then claimed the first set with ease.

Sabalenka was again caught cold and had no answer as world number one Swiatek raced out the blocks in the second set, breaking twice via marathon rallies, to gain a 4-0 lead.

Swiatek swiftly wrapped victory up, despite a short medical time out for her opponent, and has now won all three of her WTA Tour encounters with Sabalenka in 2022, conceding just 12 games in the process.

Meanwhile, in the last 25 years only Serena Williams in 2013, Kim Clijsters in 2003 and Martina Hingis in 1998 have reached the final in Rome with fewer games dropped than Iga Swiatek this season (17).

The 20-year-old Swiatek continues on her quest for a fourth straight WTA 1000 crown and fifth consecutive title and in the final will face either Ons Jabeur or Daria Kasatkina, who face off later on Saturday.

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