Iga Swatic beats Bianca Andreescu to reach the Italian Open semi-finals

Six short years ago, Iga Swiatek arrived on clay in Budapest for the Federal Junior Cup, and in her first match stared on the field at a Canadian opponent named Bianca Andreescu. As she won in three tough sets, it would be one of the formative results of Swiatek’s junior career, a victory that imbued her with the belief that she could take on players from tennis’s larger and more famous nations. She finished the week by leading Poland to the title.

It’s been a long journey for both players since and in the Italian Open quarter-finals, their paths finally crossed in singles competition for the second time, now as Grand Slam champions who watched each other from afar with tremendous mutual respect. This showdown may one day be the defining rivalry of the era but that’s Swiatek’s time. After a agonizing opening set, she efficiently separated herself as she racked up an impressive 26th straight win, defeating Andreescu 7-6 (2), 6-0.

“I feel every game I play better and better,” Swiatek said. “Although the first set was very tight, I had some ups and downs, I feel I can play well in the important moments and fall back at any time.”

The opening set was tense and full of high-octane exchanges as both players tried to choke the other’s second serve while looking for control of the baseline. From early on, Swiatek challenged Andreescu to keep up with her strength, athletic performance and ball shooting. She made a 5-3 lead thanks to her superior movement, backstacks swinging for winners down the line and by clearing all of her short balls.

Although she still acclimated to this intensity shortly after her comeback, Andreescu slowly grew into the match and fought hard. She played her clearest tennis attack spell with her back to the wall, breaking Swiatek while serving the set and then holding a break point at 5-5.

But Swiatek’s confidence was phenomenal and she was present at all the big points, capturing Andreescu’s momentum and then playing a flawless break. As in many of her last matches, Swiatek opened her shoulders and relaxed in the second set, dropping the bout as quickly as many of the 25 before her.

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With 26 consecutive wins, this impressive run has now moved up Swiatek’s level with Victoria Azarenka’s 2012 winning streak and in the 21st century, only the three greatest players of this period have more wins: Venus Williams (35), Serena Williams (34) and Justine Henin (32). Swiatek has also won 40 of her last 41 sets, and this year alone, she has dropped 13 sets of bread (6-0) to her opponents.

“I needed time to learn how to do it right, how to use the line or the arrangement to put pressure on my opponents,” said Swiatek, who then plays Aryna Sabalenka. “I feel like I did it really well last season and this season at the beginning, just learning how to use it in a positive way. Last year, when I got a better rating, I felt like it was something putting pressure on me. This time it’s completely different.”

Even though Andreescu hasn’t been able to keep up, it has been a very positive week as she got her level and ranking back up after six months of layoff due to mental health. She has positioned herself to take a deep run in Paris with a proper draw and only anticipate the next meeting between her and Swiatek. 2 to arrange another meeting with his arch-rival Alexander Zverev, their third consecutive match in the semi-finals of the Masters 1000 of the dirt season.

“As for me, I respect him,” Tsitsipas said. “I don’t know if I showed it or not, but I respect what he has achieved in the sport so far. Every time I go to play with him I really want to get the best out of my game and really show my ability in terms of playing tennis, dealing with difficult situations” .

Late on Friday night, Novak Djokovic continued to build his form in time for the French Open as he overpowered the powerful bullseye of eighth seed, Felix Auger-Aliassime, in both sets, winning 7-5, 7-6 (1) to reach the round The semi-final is here. He will face fifth seed Kasper Rudd, who beat Denis Shapovalov 7-6 (7), 7-5.

By reaching the semi-finals in Rome, Djokovic secured his first and first place in the French Open, which begins next Sunday.

2022-05-13 22:42:00

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