French Open: Iga Świątek fends off late challenge from Beatriz Haddad Maia to make 2nd consecutive final

For the third time in four years, Iga Świątek is headed to the French Open final. She played two extremely different sets against Beatriz Haddad Maia, the No. 14 seed, but won both of them 6-2, 7-6(7).

Haddad Maia, past the second round at a major for the first time ever, matched up against Świątek exceptionally well. She'd won nine of her last 12 contests against top-10 opponents coming into Thursday's semifinal and really made Świątek work in the second set.

That was not case in the first set, where Świątek's strengths were on display. The world No. 1 was able to dictate the pace, blasting shots that hugged the lines and angles and preventing Haddad Maia from coming in close to the net. Świątek won the first set in just 44 minutes.

Then, in the second set, Haddad Maia seemed to reset. She went up 2-1 to take her first lead of the match while Świątek appeared rattled, letting her shots go long and hitting the ball into the net on consecutive points. The momentum was shifting, and it was a big moment in the match. Haddad Maia had made a comeback in her last four matches and was deadly when playing from behind. But down 3-1, Świątek turned on her defense and won the next three games to retake the lead.

Poland's Iga Swiatek celebrates her victory over Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in the French Open semifinals on June 08, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Frey/TPN/Getty Images)
Poland's Iga Swiatek celebrates her victory over Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil in the French Open semifinals on June 8, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Frey/TPN/Getty Images)

Despite Świątek's one-set lead, the match felt more even than it had before. Tied at 4-4, Haddad Maia became formidable while Świątek started buckling a bit. The unforced errors started to pile up, and every time Świątek took a lead, she inevitably gave it back. She had chances to end the match when she was up 5-4 and 6-5, but couldn't close it out.

The tiebreak was a horns-locked battle between two powerhouses, one fighting to extend the match, one fighting to end it. With the shots and the saves they were making, no one would have said no to watching another set of full-throttle, no-holds-barred tennis. No one but Świątek, that is. She said no and finally wrapped up the match after spending one hour, 25 minutes fighting Haddad Maia to win the second set.

Świątek is just 21 years old, and Saturday she'll compete for her third career French Open title. If she wins, it will be her fourth title overall. Will Karolina Muchova, who defeated Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday, be able to stop her? We'll find out on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. ET on NBC.