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By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, June 7, 2023


Beatriz Haddad Maia beat Ons Jabeur 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 becoming the first Brazilian woman in Open Era history to reach the Roland Garros semifinals.

Photo credit: Roland Garros Facebook

Teetering on the ledge of loss late in the second set, Beatriz Haddad Maia made a spirited stand and hit her way into history.

Exuding fierce fighting spirit, Haddad Maia overcame Ons Jabeur 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-1 to become the first Brazilian woman in Open Era history to reach the Roland Garros semifinals.

More: Ball Kid Struck, Sparking Controversial RG Disqualification

The 27-year-old Haddad Maia will play world No. 1 Iga Swiatek for a spot in Saturday's final.

Reigning champion Swiatek swept American Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-2—her seventh straight-sets win over the 19-year-old American in as many meetings
—scoring her 12th straight win in Paris to return to the semifinals. Haddad Maia won her lone prior meeting vs reigning Roland Garros champion Swiatek on hard court in Toronto last summer.

The nation that gave us Maria Bueno and three-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten now has a new Grand Slam hero to cheer.

The 14th-seeded Haddad Maia is the first Brazilian woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since graceful Hall of Famer Maria Bueno 55 years ago at the US Open.

"Keep fighting" Haddad Maia wrote on the court-side camera lens after winning seven of the final eight games to wrap a two-and-a-half hour triumph.

This comeback continues a remarkable run for the left-hander from Sao Paulo, who arrived in Paris with an innocuous 7-11 career Grand Slam record without ever surpassing a Grand Slam second round.

Comeback Queen B pulled off her third consecutive victory from a set down, including her gutsy 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo in the fourth round. That three hour, 51-minute epic was the longest women's match of the season.

Looking a little depleted at the outset today, Haddad Maia elevated her intensity and her level of play as her maiden major quarterfinal progressed.

Competing with more desire, the woman who suggests her "warm heart" has been a stumbling block to past Slam success kept cool, while Wimbledon and US Open finalist Jabeur wilted a bit under the pressure with questionable shot selection.

"I think the key was to try to think the same way I thought during the last rounds," Haddad Maia told Tennis Channel's Jon Wertheim afterward. "I was with the pressure it was 5-all, it was 6-all.

"I had to push my level up because I knew she wasn't going to give me anything. And I think the key was to be humble and to accept she was also doing good shots. I'm happy I could make it through this one because she's a very good player and I'm proud of me and my team."

Contesting her first career Roland Garros quarterfinal, Jabeur hit 10 more winners (38 to 28) and put herself in position for a trip to her third major semifinal, but fumbled finishing shots. Several times Jabeur worked the point beautifully to set up an open-court opportunity only to blow the kill shot.

Charleston champion Jabeur carried an 11-2 clay-court record into this quarterfinal, including a 6-3, 6-0 win over Haddad Maia in Stuttgart that spanned just 68 minutes. But as today's rematch progressed, Jabeur felt the Brazilian was physically stronger, which may well explain some of her bail-out drop shots.

"I'm feeling okay. I think I rushed my way back on tour, but that's because I wanted to be ready for the French Open," Jabeur said. "You know, like all the training and the physical training, maybe I didn't have enough time to prepare for that, but I did my maximum. I did what I could do in a short time period.

"But, yeah, she probably played longer than me, but she's a beast, and I wish her all the best. I mean, honestly, what she's doing for -- I feel like my story and her story are a little bit similar. I'm very happy for her and for Brazil, and hopefully she can do much more for her country."

Tennis Express

The Tunisian trail-blazer has a well-earned reputation as one of the sport's craftiest and most clever players.

Today, Jabeur surprisingly brain-cramped at times and betrayed her cause with some highly shaky shot-selection down the stretch.

If Jabeur watches a replay of this match, she'll see she never really adjusted to Haddad Maia's lefty slider serve wide on the ad side to the Tunisian's backhand.

On virtually every big point, Haddad Maia hit that wide spot with the slice serve. Jabeur could have taken a few steps to her left to intercept the angle, or run around the backhand return to crack a couple of forehands or even step in and try to chip the low backhand return to make the 6' Brazilian bend. Instead, Jabeur was repeatedly beaten by that powerful yet predictable pattern.

Credit Haddad Maia for keeping calm and realizing she had to take her cracks at drives down the line.

In the tiebreaker, the Brazilian played bolder tennis and was rewarded for her risk.

Haddad Maia belted a backhand winner down the line for 3-0.

Serving to force the third set at 6-5, Haddad Maia scripted her signature serve play: hooking that slider serve wide then zapping a forehand winner down the line to close the second set and force a decider.

Tightness is a tell every player—even great ones—reveal under stress.

When Jabeur gets tight she has a habit of rushing through serve points and over-playing the drop shot.

Fighting to stay alive while serving at 1-3 in the decider, Jabeur kicked away a break with an alarming brain cramp. Believing her serve landed wide, Jabeur kicked away the Brazilian's return instead of playing it.

The chair umpire checked the mark, ruled the serve was good (though Hawk-Eye replay showed it was slightly wide, Hawk-Eye is not flawless), giving Haddad Maia another break point.

Ripping open the point with a heavy crosscourt forehand, an assertive Haddad Maia attacked net drawing the error to break for 4-1.

Gaining the edge in a crackling rally, Jabeur had a clear look at an open expanse of court but shoveled her backhand wide, squandering a break point. The Brazilian hooked her lefty serve out wide again to save a third break point and repeated that serving pattern erasing a fourth break point.

Fighting through a gutsy five-deuce hold that spanned nearly 11 minutes, Haddad Maia again spotted the slider serve into the backhand, drawing the netted return to hold for 5-1.

That spirted stand from the Brazilian broke Jabeur's spirit.

A deflated Jabeur quickly fell into a triple match point spiral in the next game.

On her second match point, Haddad Maia sealed her first major semifinal when Jabeur sailed a forehand.

Jabeur, whose home fans nicknamed her "Minister of Happiness" for her perpetually-positive disposition, showed her class in the aftermath of a gut-wrenching loss walking around the net to embrace Haddad Maia knowing how much this moment means to the maiden major semifinalist.

Comeback Queen Haddadd Maia will try to keep this amazing journey going in tomorrow's semifinals against world No. 1 Swiatek.


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