In six matches at this French Open, no one has come close to finding a solution to Iga Swiatek.
Not the No. 1 seed and former champion Simona Halep, whom Swiatek crushed in the fourth round. Not qualifier Nadia Podoroska, whom she routed 6-2, 6-1 in little more than an hour on Thursday in the women’s semifinals at Roland Garros.
Swiatek is just 19 with a surname that many people are still learning to pronounce (try Shvee-ON-tek). She is playing in only her seventh Grand Slam tournament and has yet to win a tour title, but she has leapt into the tennis stratosphere in a hurry.
“Basically I wanted to play this match as if it would be a first round,” Swiatek said on Thursday. “Because I didn’t want to think I was in a semifinal because it would stress me, so I just kept being aggressive like in the previous matches.”
No one has won more than four games in a set against her in Paris this year, and though she is unseeded and inexperienced, ranked just 54th, it will be hard not to consider her the favorite when she takes the court on Saturday for her first Grand Slam singles final against No. 4 seed Sofia Kenin or No. 7 seed Petra Kvitova.
Both Kenin and Kvitova, who were to play later on Thursday, already have won major singles titles: Kenin at this year’s Australian Open and Kvitova at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014.
But neither has consistently hit the same sorts of high notes in the last two weeks as Swiatek, whose compact blend of offense and defense has been irresistible.
“I’m kind of surprised really,” she said. “I would have never thought at this tournament I would play so good here, but on the other hand, I always knew if I was going to be in the final of a Grand Slam it would be the French Open. So I’m really happy. It’s a dream come true.”
Swiatek may end up playing two finals this year. She is in the semifinals of the women’s doubles with American partner Nicole Melichar. The last woman to win in both singles and doubles at Roland Garros was Mary Pierce in 2000.
Swiatek, who finished high school earlier this year, is the first Polish player to reach the French Open women’s singles final since 1939 when Jadwiga Jedrzejowska lost to Simonne Mathieu of France. Mathieu now has a court named for her at Roland Garros.