Beatriz Haddad Maia, a path strewn with pitfalls

Beatriz Haddad Maia after her victory against Ons Jabeur in the quarter-finals of Roland-Garros, Wednesday June 7, 2023.

Iga Swiatek has only crossed paths with Beatriz Haddad Maia once in her career, but the encounter must have left her with a bitter taste. In the round of 16 of the WTA 1000 (the most important tournament category after the Grand Slams) in Toronto, the world number one ended up folding in three sets under the powerful blows of the Brazilian. It was August 2022.

Ten months after their clash on Canadian cement, the two young women meet again on Thursday June 8, this time in the temple of clay, for a place in the final of Roland-Garros. On the one hand, the Polish, still on the throne, the conquering title holder who has only spent 5:32 on the court since the start of the fortnight. On the other, the left-hander from Sao Paulo, 12:55 a.m. in the legs after five games and arrived in Paris with the goal ofreach the third round.

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After losing only one game when she entered the competition (6-0, 6-1 against the German Tatjana Maria), the Brazilian (14ᵉ world) then crossed the second round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in her career after her victory in three sets against the Russian Diana Shnaider (108ᵉ). The rest of her career is a small miracle: she saves a match point in the third round, trails by a set and a double break in the next match, and dismisses two break points which would have allowed her opponent to serve for the quarter-final game. But, each time, she ends up triumphing in three sets, respectively against the Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova (23ᵉ), the Spaniard Sara Torribes Tormo (132ᵉ) and the Tunisian Ons Jabeur (7ᵉ).

Gustavo Kuerten, “a kind of godfather”

The latter was full of praise for him. ” I understand where she’s coming from, the pressure she’s under but she’s handling it very wellshe smiled, despite the defeat, at a press conference. She does a lot for her country, to inspire more and more young girls. »

The only player from her country in the Top 100, Beatriz Haddad Maia, 27, is the first Brazilian of the Open era in the semi-finals of the French Open. The last to reach this stage of the competition was Maria Bueno – who died five years ago – in 1965. “I met her several times, she is a source of inspiration for me”, testifies the one nicknamed “Bia” in comments reported by West France.

Read also: Casper Ruud joins Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals; Ons Jabeur released by Beatriz Haddad Maia

Trained by his compatriot Rafael Paciaroni, the great left-hander (1.85 m) was trained, in his adolescence, by Larri Passos, the legendary coach of Gustavo Kuerten, triple winner Porte d’Auteuil. “They are the same! he exclaims in the columns of The Team. Pushing the opponent, pushing them back to open up the court, that’s how they both like to play. He stimulated her, he is her inspiration, a kind of godfather. »

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