While the other semi-final is a matchup between two of the stars of 2022, the matchup here is one of the World No.1 standout and the woman who has often flattered to deceive despite her clear talents. Iga Swiatek moves closer to a second slam of the year but will need to deal with Aryna Sabalenka, who will be eager to bounce back from last year’s US Open which she will see as a huge missed opportunity.
After avoiding a surprise early loss against Kaia Kanepi, Sabalenka has looked much improved in New York. A tough comeback win against Danielle Collins was followed by a her straight sets win against Karolina Pliskova, staying mostly in control during the 6-1 7-6 win. “I think I started really well, and the first set was really high level for me and put a lot of pressure on her,” Sabalenka said after. “First set was really great. In the second set, I knew she will kind of trying to come back and she will do better. I just tried to hold my serve and try to put her under pressure on her serve.”
Swiatek has fallen back from her mid-year level, making just one quarter final from three tournaments following Wimbledon. Losses to Caroline Garcia, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Madison Keys suggest she couldn’t quite make the step up when it came to aggressive players peaking in the way she had done so during her winning run. “I feel like it just clicked,” Swiatek said after beating Jessica Pegula 6-3 7-6. “I was able today to use my intuition a little bit more. I didn’t force myself to do every step right, all this technical stuff that I’ve been working on. It was more natural today.”
During her winning streak, Swiatek was taking apart the more aggressive players with ease – especially if they had a clear weakness such as the Sabalenka serve here. She has fallen back from her mighty high standards since Wimbledon though and is some what vulnerable against the best players for the time being. How the Belarussian serves may be key to if this match is competitive – she was excellent in her last match and it set the tone for her victory. Since her streak ended, Swiatek’s next three losses all came to a similar type of heavy hitting player – the fourth coming to the same may well not be a surprise either even with her record against Sabalenka to date.
Prediction – Aryna Sabalenka in three sets