Sabs and Swiatek set for semi stoush

TOP seed Iga Swiatek and sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka will face off in a blockbuster semi-final to determine one of the two US Open women’s singles finalists. Both players won their respective quarter finals in straight sets, though both also featured a second set tiebreaker to keep things interesting. In the end, the two favourite made their way into the Flushing Meadows decider, with Swiatek knocking off the last American hope Jessica Pegula, and Sabalenka getting the better of Czech, Karolina Pliskova.

Swiatek had the tougher battle of the two semi-finalists, having to overcome eighth seed Pegula in front of her opponent’s home crowd in a match that lasted one hour and 53 minutes. The American actually took the early break in the fifth game to go 3-2 up in the opening set, only for the Pole to break straight back and win the remaining four games of the first set – including breaking to love in the eighth game – to take the opening set 6-3.

The second set start was a disaster for both players on serve, as the first four games were met with four breaks of serve. Pegula was the first player to hold her serve in the fifth game, before the world number one held, and then broke back to move 4-3 up. The celebration did not last long as Pegula again broke straight back, but had to work to stay in the second set as the Pole again broke in the ninth game to serve for the match. Off the back of two winners, Pegula saved herself in the 10th game to go back to 5-5, with the players yet again trading two breaks of serve in a set that is unlikely to be remembered for its serving consistency.

In the end, the tiebreaker was neck and neck, but Swiatek forced an error off Pegula’s backhand side to claim the second set, and the match, 6-3 7-6 in a hard-fought battle. Both players served one ace for three double faults and Swiatek only won half of her service points, though it was far better than Pegula’s woeful 39 per cent. It came down to who was going to hold up when it counted, and Swiatek did that, hitting eight more winners (22-14) and only three more unforced errors (32-29) in a match that featured 13 breaks in 21 service games.

“I was able today to use my intuition a little bit more,” Swiatek said post-game. “I didn’t force myself to do every step right, all this technical stuff that I’ve been working on. “It was more, like, natural today. “I was able to focus on just more basic stuff. “That was nice because I didn’t have thousands of things to improve in my head.”

Sabalenka had a far more clinical win over 22nd seed Pliskova, with the sixth seed cruising to a 6-1 first set win, before having to really work for it in the second set, eventually coming out on top 7-4 in the tiebreak. The Belarusian won the first four games of the match to set up the victory, breaking three times in the set, but then could not crack through for another break in the second set. She never faced a break point herself, hitting triple the amount of winners compared to the Czech (30-10), and only five more unforced errors (28-23) to win in an hour and 22 minutes.

“I think I start really well, and the first set was really high level for me and put a lot of pressure on her,” Sabalenka said post-match. “First set was really great. In the second set, I knew she will kind of trying to come back and she will do better. I just tried to hold my serve and try to put her under pressure on her serve.”

While for two-time Grand Slam winner Swiatek it will be her first US Open semi-final, Sabalenka is into her second consecutive final four at Flushing Meadows, and will be hoping to crack through for the first major of her career.

“Semi-final, it’s going to be tough,” Sabalenka said. “I’m ready for another fight. I have to stay focused on myself.”


[1] Iga Swiatek (POL) defeated [8] Jessica Pegula (USA) 6-3 7-6
[6] Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) defeated [22] Karolina Pliskova (CZE) 6-1 7-6

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments