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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday September 6, 2022

 
Iga Swiatek

The 21-year-old World No.1 has overcome pre-tournament doubts to reach her maiden US Open final.

Photo Source: Getty

Flushing Meadows, NY—Iga Swiatek made headlines ahead of the US Open when she made a fuss about the lighter, faster–playing tennis balls used by the women at the tournament.

Tennis Express

Ten days into the fortnight, the headlines are all about her doing what she normally does: winning.

Swiatek pushed past No.8-seeded Jessica Pegula in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night, fighting off the pesky American to book her first US Open semifinal, 6-3, 7-6(4).

"I'm pretty proud of it because I feel like I'm playing better and better every match," Swiatek said. "Jessie was a tough opponent today, for sure. Second set was really tight. We both were fighting till the last point. I'm proud of myself that I could be the one to win the last one."

Top-ranked and top-seeded, Swiatek has now won 39 of her last 45 matches at the majors, many of them, impressively, without her best tennis.

It was the case again tonight as she fought through a litany of breaks to squeak past Pegula for the third consecutive time in 2022. It hasn’t been easy for top seeds in the women’s singles draw at the US Open over the years, but Swiatek is changing that narrative as well, as she becomes the first top seed to reach the semifinals since 2016 and stretches her winning streak against Top-10 opponents to eight matches.

She will face resurgent Aryna Sabalenka, the No.6 seed, in the semifinals tomorrow evening.


The Pole didn’t do a great job protecting her serve against Pegula, as she was broken five times, taking her total of breaks surrendered to 15 for the tournament. But the Pole has been a service break machine, engineering 28 breaks on the tournament, including seven against Pegula on Wednesday.

It was enough to leave the American extremely frustrated. She smacked a ball out of the court in frustration at one point and received a warning.

“It was pretty crazy there for a while,” she said. “I don't know if we were just returning well and not serving great or what. But, yeah, it was frustrating. Especially 6-5, serving 40-Love. She hits one ball right off the line, then wins two points. That can be really frustrating.

“Definitely wish I would have just served five percent better. I felt like at least I could have won the second set. So, yeah, that's frustrating.”

Nearly every time Pegula scored a break she was broken immediately back. There were 10 breaks in total in the second set, but when it came to crunch time in the tiebreak, Swiatek won five of the final seven points to close out Pegula in one hour and 53 minutes.

Swiatek says she is extremely pleased to be making progress match after match in New York. She told reporters that she is starting to play on instinct, rather than overthinking her game.

"I feel like it just clicked," she said. "I was able today to use my intuition a little bit more. I didn't force myself to do every step right, all this technical stuff that I've been working on. It was more, yeah, like natural today. I was able to focus on, like, just more basic stuff. That was nice because I didn't have, like, thousands of things to improve in my head. I was just playing a little bit better."

Swiatek cracked 22 winners against 32 unforced errors; Pegula hit 14 winners and 40 unforced errors.

“It was a tough match,” she said. “Conditions were definitely a little bit different playing at night. So we had some adjusting to do. I feel like the first set was a little ugly. Happy the way I fought back in the second.

“Still a tough loss.”

 

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