Iga Swiatek breezes into semifinals at Doha

League: Tennis

Posted on: 15 Feb, 2024 at 09:38 PM

Credit: Mike Frey-USA TODAY Sports

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek coasted to a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Victoria Azarenka on Thursday to advance to the semifinals of the Qatar TotalEnergies Open in Doha.

A two-time defending champion, Swiatek won her 11th straight match at the tournament after capturing points on 78 percent of her first serves and converting five of six break points.

The 22-year-old native of Poland dispatched Belarus' Azarenka in 74 minutes. Swiatek is bidding to become the first player on the WTA Tour to win a tournament three consecutive times since Serena Williams accomplished the feat at the Miami Open in 2013-15.

"I felt like I started a little bit playing too aggressively maybe, but then I found my rhythm and the proper way to play," Swiatek said. "I kept it till the end of the match. I'm happy that I could analyze during the match and then take a lesson from that."

Swiatek will face Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Pliskova extended her winning streak to nine matches by holding off Japan's Naomi Osaka 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) in one hour and 43 minutes.

Pliskova and Osaka each won a total of 86 points, winning exactly 55 points on their serves and 31 on their returns.

Osaka squandered a 5-3 lead in the first tiebreak but survived three match points to force the second tiebreak.

Swiatek is 3-0 against Pliskova, the 2017 Doha champion.

Also on Thursday, third-seeded Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan recorded a 6-4, 6-2 win over unseeded Canadian Leylah Fernandez.

Rybakina rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the first set to breeze past the 2021 U.S. Open finalist in 94 minutes.

"She's very good player, lefty, tricky one," Rybakina said. "Didn't start the match that well, but in the end found my way in the first set and happy to win in two.

"Today was quite windy compared other days. I didn't start with my serve well, and it was not easy to adjust. But ... I found my way, and also started to return and be better."

Rybakina advanced to the semifinals to face Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who posted a 7-5, 6-4 win over Danielle Collins. The win allowed Pavlyuchenkova to notch her first hard-court semifinal berth at a WTA 1000 event since the 2010 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati when she was 19.

Pavlyuchenkova converted all four of her break points to end the match in 94 minutes.

"I have never played good in Qatar, so I always thought conditions were not, like, good for me and for some reason I never felt good playing here, and especially at this level event in these conditions," Pavlyuchenkova said.

"So now I'm just actually really proud of this even more, because sometimes you play, like I like, for example, Madrid or Roland Garros, and I'm not saying it's normal that I would play well there, but it's kind of different where, when you really feel like, 'OK, this tournament is really tough and I don't play good here over the years,' and now you do well, this is more special."

--Field Level Media