World No.1 Iga Swiatek moved one step closer to a successful title defense at the Indian Wells Masters after defeating 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu 6-3, 6-1 in the fourth round, setting the quarterfinal clash with Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, here.
In back-to-back matches against Grand Slam champions, Swiatek’s confidence showed in her match management. Her ability at just 21 years old to feel out her opponents and then suddenly break away and flip a set or tiebreak on its head is second to none.
In her wins over Bianca Andreescu in the third round and Raducanu in the fourth round, one could see how Swiatek’s surges left her opponents looking to the sky with demoralized grins. Andreescu, by her own admission, played a great match. But Swiatek slammed the door in the second-set tiebreak by playing seven perfect points.
Similarly, Raducanu played a solid match. She did well to keep pace with Swiatek early, matching the World No.1 from the baseline and defending valiantly from the corners. But a Raducanu double-fault while serving down 3-2, 0-30 gave Swiatek her best chance to break and the game’s best returner took her opportunity immediately.
Riding a run of 9 straight points, Swiatek broke open the match to lead 5-2 and closed out the set two games later on Tuesday night.
With a set in hand, Swiatek dominated the second set. With a clear game plan of holding steady and breaking Raducanu down with patient, prolonged rallies, Swiatek closed out the match after 1 hour and 24 minutes.
Swiatek finished with 22 winners and 14 unforced errors, while converting 4 of 10 break points. Raducanu was held to 9 winners to 22 unforced errors, going 0 for 2 on break points.
Bidding to make her second consecutive WTA 1000 semifinal, the 21-year-old Swiatek will face Cirstea for a second time in her career. It will be the first meeting since their dramatic three-set duel at the Australian Open last year. There, Swiatek rallied from a set down to win 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the Round of 16.
Cirstea booked her spot in her first Indian Wells quarterfinals with a big upset, knocking out No.5 Caroline Garcia 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic reached the Indian Wells Masters quarterfinals for the first time since 2016 in dramatic fashion, downing No.3 seed Jessica Pegula in a final-set tiebreak.
Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova had to save four match points before battling past Pegula 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(11) in a gripping Round-of-16 clash on Tuesday.
Alcaraz moves into quarterfinals after Draper retires midway
Top seed Carlos Alcaraz moved into the quarterfinal of the Indian Wells Masters after his British opponent Jack Draper retired midway with an injury.
The Spaniard led Jack Draper 6-2, 2-0 when the Briton was forced to retire with an abdominal injury that first affected him late in his Monday win against Andy Murray.
In the pair’s second ATP Head-to-Head meeting, both men produced highlight-reel shots early, but Alcaraz had more success in the routine points as he took an early lead, escaping 0/40 in his opening service game with timely power plays on Tuesday night. The 19-year-old Spaniard will face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Tommy Paul next in his bid to return to the semifinals.
Felix saves six match points to stun Tommy Paul
Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada fought off six match points to edge American player Tommy Paul 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(6) and set up a quarterfinal clash with world no. 2 Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the Indian Wells Open here.
With the stunning victory, Auger-Aliassime has now reached the quarters at each of the past six ATP Masters 1000 events, including his current run. He has advanced to that stage at seven of the nine Masters 1000s on the calendar, with Monte Carlo and Shanghai the lone exceptions.
In his first ATP head-to-head meeting with the surging American, Auger-Aliassime was battling from behind all evening, dropping the first set and trailing 0-3 in the third. After levelling the decider at 3-3, he stared down three match points at 0/40 while serving at 5-6.