No.1 seed Iga Swiatek's winning streak hit 34 after she dispatched No.20 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-1 in just 64 minutes to reach her second Roland Garros final.
Swiatek is now tied for the second-longest winning streak of this century with Serena Williams, who won 34 consecutive matches between Miami and Wimbledon 2013. Victory for the 21-year-old in the final would equal Venus Williams' 21st-century record of 35 straight wins, set in 2000.
Swiatek has also won 54 of her past 56 sets; since the fourth round of Indian Wells, only Liudmila Samsonova and Zheng Qinwen have managed to win a set from Swiatek, both in tiebreaks. She also extended her winning streak against Top 20 opposition to 13.
The World No.1 Swiatek improved to 2-1 in Grand Slam semifinals. Previously, she defeated Nadia Podoroska at this stage of Roland Garros in 2020 en route to her first major title, but lost to Danielle Collins at the Australian Open in January. She also extended her head-to-head lead against Kasatkina to 4-1, with all four victories coming this year at the Australian Open, Dubai, Doha and now Paris. Across those matches, Swiatek has conceded only 14 games.
On Saturday, Swiatek will take on No.18 seed Coco Gauff, who cruised to a straight-sets win against Martina Trevisan.
Turning point: Through the first four games, the semifinal was evenly poised. Swiatek had drawn first blood, taking her fourth break point to move up 2-0, but Kasatkina had responded with smart wrong-footing winners and aggressive intent to level at 2-2.
Serving at 2-3, 15-30, Kasatkina was shaping up to hammer away a forehand sitter when a gust of wind caught the ball. The 25-year-old sent the ball way over the baseline. Minutes later, Swiatek flashed a forehand winner to go up a break again, and she never looked back.
Swiatek would win five straight games, and 20 out of 25 points, as she raced through the rest of the first set. Kasatkina stemmed the tide with a hold in the second game of the second set, but the respite was brief. Swiatek then won five straight games, including 20 out of the last 23 points of the match.
By the numbers: Swiatek tallied 22 winners to 13 unforced errors, taking her total of winners at Roland Garros this year to 140. She landed 70% of her first serves, and won 79% of those points. Indeed, Swiatek conceded only 11 points behind her serve in total, four of which came in the sole game she was broken.
Kasatkina found 10 winners, but was undone by 24 unforced errors as she tried to keep pace with Swiatek. The World No.20 had dropped serve only six times in the tournament prior to her Grand Slam semifinal debut and four of those occasions were in her quarterfinal against Veronika Kudermetova. However, Swiatek punished Kasatkina's second serve, winning 11 of the 14 points returning it, and broke five times in total.
As the finishing line neared, Swiatek broke her opponent at love for a 5-1 lead with a clean return winner and sealed her first match point with a first ace of the day.
Swiatek on the aspect of the game she finds most satisfying: "Maybe that feeling after the match that you were physically stronger, and the feeling after some long rallies that it was possible for me to finish with a nice stroke. When I already felt like my legs are burning and I was sure my opponent's legs are burning, I could still go low and just play really solid game, that's kind of satisfying. Because you can feel that all those practices were worth it.
"I would say when I learned how to also improve during tournaments and how to loosen up during tournaments. I think it's pretty great, because the beginnings are tough. But for sure here I feel better and better every match, so I hope it's going to stay that way."
Swiatek on her pre-match soundtrack: "There are a few bands that I listen to before a match. Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, and Guns N' Roses, they were always the three that were really kind of perfect for the situation.
"I use music to have something that's going to get my brain busy and relaxed before the match. But also when I want to be more energetic, it really helps me."
Swiatek on Gauff: "I'm pretty happy that she's doing well, because I think she's also had huge amount of pressure in her life. Being always the youngest one and the one that is supposed to be the future, it must have been tough.
"I'm happy that she's doing well with that, because I'm sure that it took her a lot of energy to do it properly. But I can't really judge, because I don't know what's going on there inside. So from what I see on court, she's developing every year basically. And when I see her, I tend to forget that she's 18. She's playing really consistent. You can see her progressing, and I think that's the most important thing."