Swiatek battles back to reach first Grand Slam semi since 2020 Roland-Garros win
Poland’s Iga Swiatek is through to her second career Grand Slam semi-final and will take on American Danielle Collins next
When Iga Swiatek won the French Open in 2020 without dropping a set, many tennis fans were excited about the Pole’s game and future potential. The tennis pundits knew it might take her some time to develop her game and mental toughness but the ingredients to become a multi-Slam champion appeared to be in place.
While 2021 may have not yielded a second Grand Slam title, Swiatek put together a good season nonetheless. She was the only player to reach the fourth round of all Majors on the women’s side last year, including a quarter-final finish while defending her French Open title. She also won 2 WTA titles, including the prestigious Italian Open, and qualified for the season-ending WTA Finals for the first time in her career.
On Wednesday, Swiatek advanced to her first Grand Slam semi-final since that breakthrough French Open title after battling past Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 in a marathon encounter that lasted three hours and one minute.
Kanepi wins the first set but Swiatek hangs tough
36-year-old Kanepi, who had won her last 3 matches against top 10 opponents, has built a long-lasting career by upsetting seeds and making deep runs at the Majors. The former world No 15 reached her first Australian Open quarter-final this fortnight – seventh overall quarter-final at a Major- and began the match hitting her trademark powerful groundstrokes to go up 5-3 in the first set. The set went down to the wire with the final two games going to multiple deuces before Kanepi finally converted her ninth set point to win the set 6-4.
After Kanepi broke in the first game of the second set, it looked like she may be on her way to her first Grand Slam semi-final and join Justine Henin as one of two Australian Open semi-finalists ranked outside the top 100. However, Swiatek fought back to win four games in a row and built a 4-1 lead. Although the Estonian broke back to level the set to 4-4, it was Swiatek who held her game together to win the set in a tiebreaker.
The 20-year-old Pole started the third set strong, breaking early to go up 2-0 before Kanepi broke back once again. However, from 2-2, Swiatek took a decisive 5-2 lead. Kanepi did take one break back but she was unable to stop Swiatek from breaking again to complete the 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 win.
Swiatek will next meet American Danielle Collins, a 7-5, 6-1 winner over France’s Alize Cornet earlier on Wednesday. World No 1 Ash Barty meets American Madison Keys in the other semi-final on Thursday.