Swiatek powers past Podoroska to reach first Grand Slam final
PARIS (Reuters) - Polish teenager Iga Swiatek became the youngest player in 19 years to reach the French Open women's final and continued her bulldozer run at Roland Garros with a 6-2 win over Argentinian qualifier Nadia Podoroska on Thursday.
The 19-year-old will face Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in her first Grand Slam final on Saturday.
World number 131 Podoroska, who wanted to be the first qualifier to reach a grand final in men's or women's singles, had no answer to Swiatek's powerful ground strokes and his smooth movement.
Swiatek had broken serve 27 times and added five more en route to the last four before ending the one-sided competition against Court Philippe Chatrier in 69 minutes.
"I'm really a bit surprised. I always knew that if I would be in a Grand Slam final, it would be at the French Open," said Swiatek in court after becoming the first Polish woman to reach the Roland Garros final 81 years and the first time since Agnieszka Radwanska at Wimbledon eight years ago.
"I wanted to play this game as a first round game, I didn't want to see it as a semi-final, otherwise I would have been too stressed. I just wanted to be aggressive like in previous games. I feel good and like nothing hurts me."
Swiatek, the youngest player to reach the women's final at Roland Garros since Kim Clijsters in 2001, wanted to prevail early on and took the lead 3-0.
She managed to hit the court well on both the forehand and backhand and painted the red tone with the winners. During another typical performance at a tournament where she also won Simona Halep's 17-match winning run, she racked up 23.
"I'm usually the kind of player who plays better under pressure," Swiatek told reporters. "If I don't choke, I think everything will be fine.
"But there's a reason I was so efficient. Really, I stay super focused. I don't let my opponents play their best tennis. So I hope I do that on Saturday."
Podoroska couldn't put up much resistance and decided to show more aggression. She stepped forward to shorten the time it took Swiatek to score her big hits.
That helped her hold two service games, but wasn't enough to derail Swiatek, who only had a single breakpoint in the opening set.
Podoroska, who had earned more by reaching the semi-finals than in her entire career, would have hoped the tide would turn in the second set, but there was no break.
Swiatek, who will also play in the doubles semi-finals on Friday, kept up the pace and took a 4-0 lead before Podoroska was able to avoid a bagel in the second set with a break due to nervous mistakes.
However, the Pole, who lost just 23 games in six games, immediately fell back and ended Podoroska's ordeal on the first match point with a serve that was not returned.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai and Julien Pretot; editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)
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