Dominant Swiatek reminds rival of Barty

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Iga Swiatek has drawn comparisons with world No.1 predecessor Ash Barty after she moved imperiously into the French Open semi-finals.

Swiatek extended her unbeaten run to 33 matches - the longest on tour since Serena Williams won 34 in a row in 2013 - when she thumped American Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-2 on Wednesday.

Having also lost to the now-retired Barty in the Australian Open quarter-finals four months ago, Pegula was in a good position to offer perspective on their games.

"To be honest, she (Swiatek) kind of plays like a guy. And, I mean that as, Ash (Barty) was a similar way, where they don't play like a typical girl where they hit kind of flat and the ball kind of goes through the court," Pegula said.

"She plays a little more unorthodox in the fact that she has, like, a really heavy forehand. But at the same time she also likes to step in and take it really early, and I think clay gives her more time, and I think it makes her forehand even harder to deal with."

The persistent pressure applied to opponents is another similarity Pegula sees between Swiatek and Barty.

"You get those few chances and you kind of feel it weighing on you that if you don't take advantage of it, you're like, 'Shoot, my chance was gone, and now I have to work so hard to either hold serve or get back in this game' or whatever it was," Pegula said. "Mentally, that's also what they do so well."

Swiatek plays No. 20 Daria Kasatkina in one women's semi-final on 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.

Of the last four women in singles, only Swiatek has previously participated in the semi-finals of a major tournament, losing at that stage at the Australian Open in January and taking the title at the 2020 French Open when she was ranked outside the top 50.

"This year it's a little bit different, because I'm not an underdog," Swiatek said, "and everything has changed, honestly."

Kasatkina beat No. 29 Veronika Kudermetova 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 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. They combined for 75 unforced errors, 50 by Kudermetova.

"It was a roller coaster," said Kasatkina, who hadn't reached a major quarter-final in four years.

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