Tennis: Swiatek into Indian Wells semis as Wozniacki retires

AFP , Thursday 14 Mar 2024

World number one Iga Swiatek had just got rolling when she found herself in the Indian Wells semi-finals on Thursday as Caroline Wozniacki retired from their quarter-final with a foot injury.

Poland's Iga Swiatek celebrates a point won against Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki in their ATP-WTA Indian Wells Masters women's quarter-final tennis match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California, on March 14, 2024. Photo: AFP


The intriguing match-up between the current and former number ones saw 33-year-old Wozniacki race to a 4-1 lead.

But 22-year-old Swiatek found her range and reeled off six straight games, pocketing the first set 6-4 and taking a 1-0 lead in the second before Wozniacki called a halt, having received treatment for an apparent blister on her right foot at the end of the first set.

Swiatek, the 2022 Indian Wells champion, booked a semi-final meeting with Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk, who beat Russian Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 7-5.

"Huge respect for her, and I'm sad that we had to finish that way," Swiatek said of the abrupt end of clash with Wozniacki.

It marked the second time they have met, the first coming back in 2019 -- seven months after Swiatek made her WTA main draw debut and five months before Wozniacki retired.

Wozniacki, now a mother of two who returned to the circuit last season, started strong in her bid for a first win over a reigning number one since she beat Simona Halep to win the 2018 Australian Open.

But Swiatek, who won the title in Doha last month before a semi-final exit in Dubai, gradually hit her stride -- closing out the opening set with an ace.

"I just wanted to hit the ball more clean, honestly, because it wasn't easy," Swiatek said of her early struggles. "I had many chances, but with her defense she's putting pressure on the opponents. You're playing forehand, backhand and everywhere.

"She's running a lot and giving everything back. So sometimes I made mistakes, you know, I couldn't really finish the rally.

"I wanted to really just stay patient and calm and try to be more solid. In the second set I felt like I can go for it -- I wanted also to influence some stuff in the second set but I didn't get a chance."

Kostyuk, in contrast, got off to a hot start then quashed Potapova's comeback bid to reach her first 1000-level semi-final.

Kostyuk got to grips with the blustery conditions to roar through the opening set in just 22 minutes.

Tricky encounter

The second set looked to be following the same pattern as Kostyuk raced to a 3-0 lead before Potapova managed to win a game.

She then broke Kostyuk to put it back on serve and suddenly Kostyuk found herself in a battle.

"I mean, 6-0, 3-0 is probably the worst score in the world, honestly," said Kostyuk, who served for the match at 5-3 in the second and was broken.

"Today I was playing the wind, so it was very tricky, and Anastasia is a very tricky opponent," added Kostyuk, who reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open this year. "She always fights, so I tried to stay there until the end."

She finally polished it off with one last break of serve, advancing when Potapova put a forehand into the net on her rival's second match point.

In the other women's quarter-finals, US Open champion Coco Gauff, seeded third, takes on China's Yuan Yue while ninth-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece faces American Emma Navarro.

Both Gauff and Sakkari could be tested. The big-hitting Yuan earned her first title in Austin two weeks ago while Navarro knocked off Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round.

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