Swiatek, Paolini set up final Paris showdown

Iga Swiatek is moving closer to a third successive French Open title after cruising past American third seed Coco Gauff in Paris.

The world No 1 will face Jasmine Paolini in Saturday's final after the Italian downed Mirra Andreeva. 

Four-times Grand Slam champion Swiatek's 6-2 6-4 semi-final win on Thursday was her 11th victory in 12 meetings with Gauff, but the 23-year-old Pole had to endure tough moments in the second set before matching her longest winning streak on clay.

"I was pretty intense and putting pressure on Coco," Swiatek told reporters. "Most of the things overall in my game worked today, so I'm proud of myself."

Iga Swiatek celebrates winning her semi-final match against Coco Gauff. Photo: Reuters
Iga Swiatek celebrates winning her semi-final match against Coco Gauff. Photo: Reuters
Paolini joined her in the final by defeating Russian 17-year-old Mirra Andreeva 6-3 6-1 to continue Italy's golden Roland Garros, with Jannik Sinner also through to the men's semi-finals.

Gauff will rise to No 2 in the rankings behind Swiatek but the loss to the Pole, who also beat her in the 2022 final and last year's quarters, was a bitter pill to swallow for the 20-year-old.

"I think she's progressing a lot," Swiatek said of the US Open champion.

"Last year's US Open showed she's tough. At this age, it's obvious she's going to just grow. It's nice to see her handling everything well around her, because it's not easy. I'm sure we'll have plenty more intense matches at the highest level."

Early break

Swiatek broke in the opening game after a forehand error by the ultra aggressive Gauff and she fought off break points in her next two service games before tightening her grip.

Having dropped the first set, Gauff wiped away tears while leading 2-1 in the second after an argument with the umpire over a line decision, but recovered to break her opponent for the first time.

"I think it was just overwhelming," Gauff said. "I'm losing the match. When you're playing against her... every point matters against anybody, but especially against her. I think it was just one of those moments, but I overcame it."

Swiatek struck back immediately before breaking to surge to a 4-3 lead with a powerful winner as a 20th straight victory at Roland Garros came into view for the 23-year-old.

Soaking up the applause on a sun-drenched Court Philippe-Chatrier, Swiatek secured victory on serve and matched her 18-match winning streak on the sport's slowest surface in 2022.

Swiatek, who saved a match point to beat former world  No 1 Naomi Osaka in the second round, has lost only 14 games since and will be the favourite to triumph.

Paolini's belief has grown at Roland Garros and the 28-year-old became the first Italian to reach the final on Parisian clay since doubles partner Sara Errani in 2012.

She used her booming forehand to devastating effect and faces the ultimate challenge in Swiatek for a shot at her maiden Grand Slam title.

"Iga is an unbelievable player. So young, but so many achievements and Grand Slams," Paolini said. "I have huge respect for her, but my goal is to step on court on Saturday and try to enjoy the match and that moment."

Andreeva, who beat Paolini in their last meeting in Madrid, failed to make the most of the few opportunities she had and was plagued by errors in her first Grand Slam semi-final.

"I was struggling throughout the match, but it is what it is ... I can take a lot of positive from these two weeks. I think for the next few days I'll be a bit disappointed, but I'll be watching the final."

Blockbuster men's semis

Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner will face off in a blockbuster French Open semi-final on Friday, as they resume a budding rivalry that could dominate the men's tour for years to come.

With defending champion Novak Djokovic having pulled out of the tournament due to a knee injury, the winner of the tie will be the nailed-on favourite to lift the Coupe des Mousquetaires and become the first new men's singles French Open champion since 2016.

Friday's clash will be the first men's singles semi-final at Roland Garros contested between two players under the age of 23 since 2008, when Rafa Nadal beat Djokovic en route to his fourth title.

"I think everybody wants to watch this match," Alcaraz told reporters on Tuesday.

"When the draw came out, I think everybody wanted Jannik on my side, playing the semi-final. I think it's going to be great for tennis and for the fans."

Alcaraz, 21, and 22-year-old Australian Open champion Sinner are now tied at 4-4 in their head-to-head record, and will meet for the third time in a Grand Slam and the first time at Roland Garros.

Both have landed in the semi-final having conceded only one set each in their previous five matches in this year's tournament, and the young Spaniard said he was expecting a gruelling battle.

Casper Ruud, runner-up for the last two years, and former world No 2 Alexander Zverev continue their bids for a maiden Grand Slam title when they meet in a repeat of last year's semi-final.

Ruud has won just one out of his four matches at the French Open in straight sets, but the Norwegian will be significantly fresher than his German opponent after receiving a walkover in his quarter-final tie with Djokovic.

However, he will face a tricky test in Zverev, who will be eager to take the next step at the French Open after being eliminated in the semi-finals in the past three editions.

Asked about facing Ruud after his 6-4 7-6(5) 6-4 victory over Alex de Minaur on Wednesday, Zverev told reporters: "Two finals in a row, third semi-final in a row, that speaks for itself.

"He's one of the best players on this surface, for sure. I think I have to play my best tennis to have a chance."