APRIL 21 - MAY 4, 2025

Swiatek seals her passage to the semis

Iga Swiatek is in the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals after beating Maia Haddad 4-6, 6-0, 6-2. Before today’s tie, the Pole had only dropped eight games in the tournament, leaving in her wake the likes of Sara Sorribes, Sorana Cirstea and Xiyu Wang. The world No. 1 was starting to look more like a repetitive robot than an athlete playing under the pressure that comes with her ranking.

However, today she was off the mark in a first set that had a spectacular soundtrack provided by the abundant Brazilian contingent as they cheered on their player from the stands. Iga would need 150 minutes of tennis to stamp her ticket to the semi-finals.

Swiatek is the perfect student for any teacher. Without the innate talent the likes of which only comes around every fifty years, she does her homework each and every day, handing it in and getting top marks with no signs of any ink blotches or mistakes. Her pure shotmaking is accompanied by a frightening clarity of mind, always taking an extra second to decide which shot will hurt her opponent the most.

Cross-court forehand, backhand down the line, lobs, drop shots… There is nothing missing from her armoury and when she came back out for set two, she was ready to show it off. A perfect 6-0 was enough to temper the Brazilian party in the Manolo Santana Stadium. “I kept wanting to go too fast and made a lot of mistakes. So I decided to go back to basics. I found it more difficult than normal, but I’m happy to have done it”.

In the decider two early breaks were enough to tip the balance in her favour. With her fans behind her, though, Haddad Maia’s head never dropped and she immediately responded with a break of her own. However, doing it again proved one step too far for the player who bowed out in round two last year.

Every test requires a particular set of skills to overcome it, and Iga explained how she prepares according to the surface she is playing on. “It’s easier for me to go from hard to clay than vice versa, but there are always things to adjust if you’ve been playing on one of them for the last couple of months. It’s a different mentality for rallies, so you need time. You can’t treat points on clay the same as the rest because they’re not the same”.

Along the same lines, she added: “In fact, you can’t treat all clay courts the same. Here it plays very differently to Rome and Paris. Rome is slower, and we go from faster (Madrid) to that, then to Paris, which would be in the middle”.

Swiatek’s next examination will be against the winner of the clash between Ons Jabeur and Madison Keys, and she will vary her game plan according to which one triumphs: “It’ll be a tough match in the semi-final. Anyone who gets there deserves to be there. I’ll have to see what the conditions are like, because it looks like it’ll be colder, but they’re different players and I’ll play differently from a tactical point of view depending on who I have to face”.