The Polish top-seed and world no. 1 Iga Swiatek battled past Belarussian Aryna Sabalenka in two hours and 11 minutes. The 21-year-old had been torn apart by the 6th seed in the first set. Sabalenka looked in an unrelenting mood, teasing an upset. But a quick bathroom break after the opening set put her in the zone. “I kind of needed to go…For sure I felt lighter,” she admitted after the match. Returning into the Arthur Ashe cauldron after a brief moment of quiet, she hit her levels in a one-sided second set. The third was a tighter contest, but Swiatek’s poise helped her over the line. The 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 ensured passage into her first US Open final.
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Bar the occasional blips, Swiatek has been at her imperious best in New York. It took her 67 minutes to dispatch Italian Jasmine Paolini 6-3, 6-0 in the opening round. American Sloane Stephens took seven more minutes off her time, falling 6-3, 6-2 in a one-sided affair. Another American, Lauren Davis, gave her a longer workout in the third round, but a 6-3, 6-4 straight-set win followed nonetheless. German Jule Niemeier gave the top seed her first stern test of the slam. Dropping the first set 2-6, the Polish ace shook herself into a rhythm, reeling off the next two 6-4. 6-0. Eighth seed Jessica Pegula offered some fight, but it came to nought. 6-3, 7-6 (4) it finished, nudging the hot-favourite closer to the summit clash. Sabalenka pushed her furthest, but it was still short of knocking her off the perch.
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On Sunday, the exciting Ons Jabeur waits in the finals. The 5th seed has the game to unsettle Swiatek, but against the Pole, it’s as much a matter of holding nerve. Chasing a second Grand Slam in 2022- after her French Open triumph- expect a tense, high-quality contest!