Swiatek vs Podoroska French Open tennis preview, head-to-head and predictions

hannahwilks in French Open 07 Oct 2020
Iga Swiatek (Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA)

A highly unexpected French Open semifinal sees Polish teenager Iga Swiatek taking on Argentine qualifier Nadia Podoroska.

Iga Swiatek vs Nadia Podoroska is live from Roland Garros on Thursday 8 October, 3pm local/2pm BST

Iga Swiatek, just 19 years old, blew the French Open wide open when she ousted top seed Simona Halep, while Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska played her way through qualifying and stunned Elina Svitolina to earn her place in the semifinals.

French Open 2020: Find out tournament information for Roland Garros 2020 and how to stream French Open matches live

In what is completely uncharted territory for both women, who can seize the chance to make their first Grand Slam final at Roland Garros?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Swiatek vs Podoroska live

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Swiatek vs Podoroska: Head-to-head

This is the first meeting between Iga Swiatek and Nadia Podoroska.

Swiatek vs Podoroska: Preview

There were many theories and predictions about what we would see at the French Open, but I don’t think anybody envisioned this semifinal – or that the women’s tournament would be the coming-out party for Poland’s Iga Swiatek.

Only two years removed from winning junior Wimbledon, Swiatek shot up the rankings as soon as she turned pro and first came to most of our attention when she reached the round of 16 at Roland Garros last year, only to lose to Simona Halep 1-6, 0-6. Again, though, I’m not sure anybody anticipated that a bit more than 12 months later she would be back in the round of 16, well and truly turning the tables on Halep and going on to make the semifinals.

What was truly impressive about Swiatek is not just the way she defeated Halep, but the way she took the court for her next match, not reeling from the biggest win of her career, but taking it all in her stride. She trailed early against Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan, herself an incredible story, but after going down 1-3, swiftly figured out the buttons to press and won 11 of the next 12 games for a 6-3, 6-1 victory. Swiatek has not only lost a set, she has lost just 20 games in five matches.

How has she done it? Well – she’s pretty good. Swiatek’s spinny forehand is more effective and powerful than you might imagine, and she uses it to construct points, relying on her touch and net skills to end them – not a problem when they’re as good as hers are, and when she is reliably winning an excellent percentage of points behind her first serve. She has been able to hit so many more winners than unforced errors because she is rarely pulled out of position (again, this has a lot to do with great serving), and has unfailingly dictated the terms of her matches.

Nadia Podoroska (Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports/Sipa USA)

Will she be able to do the same thing against Podoroska? The Argentine qualifier, ranked outside the top 250 at the start of the year after a wrist injury derailed her rise up the rankings earlier in her career, is now 35-6 across all levels in 2020, and had beaten seven opponents to reach the quarterfinals, but based on the fact that she had never played a top-20 opponent, I thought she’d find herself out her depth against Svitolina.

Not so: It was the third seed, a two-time Grand Slam semifinalist, who floundered and looked completely lost as Podoroska pushed her around the court with her groundstrokes and showcased classic clay-court skills to finish the point. Svitolina was scathing about her own performance afterwards, and rightly so – she did not play at the level we would usually expect from her – but she was also given little opportunity to find her feet by Podoroska, who looked every inch a player who has racked up victory after victory in 2020.

How will things play out when Swiatek meets Podoroska? Well, Podoroska isn’t going to have things all her own way, not if Swiatek plays like she has been all tournament. A Grand Slam semifinal is a huge occasion, and a total unknown for both women, so there’s that dimension of uncertainty; but purely game-wise, Swiatek can meet Podoroska on her own terms when it comes to power, and she has so many ways to win points. A strong serving performance should see the Polish sensation into her first Grand Slam final.

Swiatek vs Podoroska: Prediction

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