Tennis: Defending champion Swiatek motors into Stuttgart quarter-finals

AFP , Thursday 18 Apr 2024

World number one and defending champion Iga Swiatek progressed to the quarter-finals of the WTA Stuttgart clay-court tournament by beating Elise Mertens in straight sets on Thursday, her ninth win in nine career matches at the French Open warm-up event.

Swiatek
Poland s Iga Swiatek celebrates defeating Belgium s Elise Mertens after the women s singles round of 16 tennis match at the WTA Tour in Stuttgart, Germany, Thursday April 18, 2024. AP

 

Swiatek beat the unseeded Belgian 6-3, 6-4 to maintain her bid to capture a third successive title in the German city and be handed the keys to a third luxury car from the sponsors after also winning the tournament in 2022.

"There's always space for a Porsche. If not, we'll make it. I'll build an underground garage," said Swiatek after playing her first clay-court match since lifting the French Open title last June.

The Pole burst out of the blocks to set up a 5-1 lead in the first set, before going 0-30 down but recovering to serve out the set.

Swiatek was broken early in the second but served her way back into the set, winning with a forehand on her fourth match point after Mertens had saved the previous three.

"This is not an easy tournament. Everyone is really motivated to win that car," Swiatek added.

The top seed will face either former US Open champion Emma Raducanu or Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic for a place in the semi-finals.

Earlier Thursday, Elena Rybakina beat Veronika Kudermetova 7-6 (7/3), 1-6, 6-4, continuing her strong form in 2024.

The Kazakh world number four, who has already claimed titles at Brisbane and Abu Dhabi in 2024, beat the Russian in two hours 33 minutes.

"I know I have my weapon, my serve. I know I can always serve it out in tough moments. Not always, but this is a strength," Rybakina said.

Rybakina will be playing in her seventh quarter-final of the season on Friday where she will face Jasmine Paolini who put out Ons Jabeur 7-6 (10/8), 6-4.

Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova defeated Anastasia Potapova 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 in her last 16 clash.

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